Over the years, more and more cycling enthusiasts are filling the national roads, expressways, and even the most secluded and rural roads. Usually, these cyclists may ride their bikes for different reasons.
Some people consider biking as a cheaper form of transportation when going to school or work. Others may also consider this as a healthy form of exercise. Meanwhile, others join cycling events and treat it as a sport.
Regardless of what reason these people have for cycling, cycling is often considered a pleasant activity that you can do alone or with groups. But as much as more people are cycling every day, the number of bicycle accidents is increasing.
According to Sadaka Firm, one of the most common bicycle accidents is bikers getting hit by cars. Bikers are at risk of getting run over by automobiles for a few reasons. It can either be due to biking at night, unsafe road conditions, or either the biker or the car driver is distracted while driving.
Bicycle accidents can befall anyone, anytime and anywhere. Fortunately, you have the power to control and reduce your risk of being involved in any type of road accident. As a reminder, here are eight defensive cycling tips you must take note of to keep yourself safe on the road.
1. Always Wear a Helmet
Even if your state doesn’t strictly require bicyclists to have headgear or a helmet, take the initiative to buy and wear one for yourself. According to research, wearing a helmet can reduce your risk of severe head or brain juries by 63% to 88%, which applies to cyclists of all ages. Keep in mind that head and brain injuries are too fatal and can even lead to immediate death.
Unlike people in cars or vans, cyclists only have the helmet as their first line of defense in case of accidents and collisions. So, as much as possible, invest in a high-quality helmet that can endure strong impacts and ensure that it fits enough into your head for optimal protection. The simple act of wearing your helmet is enough to protect you from unforeseen road accidents and deaths.
2. Check Everything Before You Ride
Sometimes, bike accidents are not caused by reckless driving or distracted drivers. It can also happen due to bicycle equipment malfunction, such as flat tires, ineffective breaks, and so on. Even a minor equipment malfunction is already enough to cause road crashes and collisions. Thus, it’s crucial to always check everything with your bike and gears before taking off on the road.
Double-check if your breaks are working and tires are inflated. See if your lights, reflectors, gears, and chains are functional and free from any issues. Doing this can significantly help you prevent any road mishaps and keep yourself and other drivers safe on the road.
3. Keep Both Hands on The Bike
It’s common for some cyclists to try and do tricks while on the road. And so, some of them would try to drive with only one hand on the handlebar while the free hand is used to hold phones, backpacks, or groceries. Unfortunately, doing this will only put you at risk of road accidents.
As much as you’re good at balancing with one hand, it may take you longer to react or use the other hand in case any unexpected situations arise. For instance, if you’re only using one hand and suddenly another vehicle, a person, or a large object blocks your path, you’re more likely to crash or fall off from the bike because you failed to use the brake in time.
4. Wear Reflective or Vivid Materials
Unlike cars and large vehicles, bikers and cyclists are not always easily seen or noticeable on the road. Thus, one of the leading causes of bike crashes and accidents is due to limited visibility. When vehicle drivers cannot see you, then you’re highly prone to accidents and crashes. This is true, especially when you cross paths where cars and bikes are on the same road.
To ensure that everyone on the road (drivers, pedestrians, or even crossing animals) can see you, make sure you install reflectors and lights on your bike. Moreover, it’s also helpful if you wear vivid or reflective clothing every time you go cycling. You can dress like a walking fluorescent, especially if you tend to go biking during the night, on cloudy days, or in the wee hours of the morning. The point is, always dress to be seen.
5. Be Familiar with Your Signals
Aside from being a skillful bicyclist, you also need to be knowledgeable about common bike hand signals and when you can use them. Using signals is a great way to communicate with other nearby drivers and pedestrians.
Through your gestures, the other people on the road will know what you’re about to do or what direction you’re about to go. At the same time, ensure that your bike hand signals are clear and understandable for others. Bicycle accidents are unlikely to happen if everyone is on the same page.
6. Avoid Distractions
As mentioned earlier, distracted drivers and bikers are one of the main reasons for bicycle accidents. To avoid any distractions while cycling, keep your phones, tablets, or even mp3 players stashed in your pockets or bags. It’s highly discouraged that you also drive with your headphones on, preventing you from being more aware and alert on the road.
In case you need to drink water, avoid trying to drink with one hand. Instead, stop on the side and rehydrate. Most importantly, if you’re carrying groceries and other items, you can use a backpack to carry everything or install a basket in front or the back of your bike. Keeping both your hands on the handlebars and your eyes on the road will keep you attentive and less distracted.
7. Ride With the Flow
When driving a car, you consciously follow traffic signals and avoid weaving in and out of traffic. Meanwhile, if you’re riding a bike, it may be easier for you to ignore traffic signals and overtake cars.
However, doing any of these things will only put you at risk for bicycle accidents, especially as most drivers will catch you by surprise or, worst, not see you. To keep yourself safe on the road, drive like you’re in a car, follow traffic signals, and go with the flow of traffic.
8. Use Bike Lanes
Fortunately, more states are now creating bike lanes dedicated to bikers and cyclists. So, if you see bike lanes around the city or wherever you go, make sure you use them to your advantage.
Meanwhile, if there are no bike lanes available, you can share the road with the other vehicles but drive on the right side of the ride if it’s safe. Otherwise, you may have to change route and look for streets with bike lanes.
The Bottom Line
Cycling can be a relaxing and fun experience. But to keep this experience fun, take note of these eight cycling tips and ensure that you and everyone on the road will be safe and sound.