During warmer weather, commuters are as likely to be found on the road outside of a car than inside one. Milder temperatures may make it tempting (or at least possible) to bike or walk instead of drive. If you do choose to leave the car behind, bicycle safety should be your first concern. The risks and dangers of moving about the world without walls are great.
In a perfect world, everyone behind the wheel of a car would be keeping their eyeballs peeled for the presence of someone on a bicycle. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Therefore, you should be doing all you can to watch out for yourself.
Bicycle Safety Starts with You
Keep these tips in mind the next time you head out on your bicycle. After all, you want to be able to head back on your own power at the end of your ride.
Do all that you can communicate your presence to the motorists around you. You may want to add a bell or horn to your setup to alert anyone near you of your presence. Make eye contact with drivers in the cars around you to make sure they are aware that you are there. Take time to learn the appropriate hand signals for turning and stopping and use them. If you don’t know these signs, this wiggly video offers a quick tutorial.
Avoid behaviors on your bike that would distract you in your car. That means keeping your cell phones stashed and waiting to pull over before downing a cheeseburger.
Remember that cyclists are beholden to the same rules of the road as those operating cars and trucks. While you don’t run much risk of exceeding the speed limit while on your bike, directional and stop signs still apply to you. If you are an adult, ride in the street and not on the sidewalk always riding with the flow of traffic and not against it. The easiest way to wind up in a collision with a car is to be in a place the car’s driver does not expect you to be.
I once bumped into a cyclist with my car while pulling out of a parking lot. I was an avid cyclist at the time with a higher than average sensitivity to the presence of bicycles and this still happened! In my defense, the rider passed in front of me on the sidewalk, traveling against the flow of traffic. To my brain, it was as if he had appeared out of nowhere. In case you’re curious, he was able to maintain control of the bike, and the only result was a bent wheel for him and a few seconds of intense cardio for me.
Whatever you do, don’t forget your helmet. While bicycle helmet laws only apply to children, helmets should be applied by everyone. Make sure the one you choose is of high quality and fits you correctly. If you have questions about your helmet, contact a local bike professional. Be prepared to pay a little more, but I guarantee you that it is worth it. I took a high-speed tumble from my bike once and managed to get concussed even with a helmet. I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if the helmet. Don’t you dare let me catch you without one because I guarantee you, young man, you will be so grounded!