Bicycle Safety: 6 Ways to Ride Safer
Whether you’re training for a triathlon, on your way to work, or just hitting the road to enjoy a bike ride, riding with cars can be dangerous for cyclists. Following these bicycle safety tips will help reduce your chances of getting into trouble:
- Don’t stop in a driver’s blind spot. Simply stop behind a car, instead of to the right of it. Stopping behind the car makes you visible to traffic on all sides.
- Use signals that car drivers recognize. You are less likely to get hit when your movement does not take motorists by surprise. Let them know you are about to turn or move left or right by signaling with your arm. Point your left arm out to move left and your right arm out to move right. You may have learned an old way of signaling a right turn with your left arm, but drivers may not know what that means, so use your right arm to signal a right turn.
- Make eye contact with drivers. Try to make eye contact with drivers as you pull into an intersection or make a turn so they know your intentions, and you know they’ve seen you.
- Ride in traffic, not with traffic. When cycling in heavy traffic, on a narrow road, or on winding downhill roads, ride in the lane with cars, not to the side where you’re not as visible and may get pushed off to the side. Of course, if a car wants to pass, move out of the way.
- Wear bright colors and reflective gear. Wearing black can make it difficult for drivers to see when you are out biking on the road. Mix in brighter colors and reflective gear to make yourself more visible. Bonus points for particularly fun and/or obnoxious color and pattern combinations!
- Use bike lights. Bike lights have come a long way. Front and rear lights increase visibility and the sooner a car sees you, the sooner it can stop. I recommend daytime running lights and a blinking rear red light, which is powerful enough to be seen during the day.
Why Bikers and Runners Should Have a Road ID
You need to have some form of identification on you when you are riding outside. A Road ID bracelet or similar item is great because you can include critical medical information—written in shorthand that first responders will understand, but won’t cause you embarrassment—along with emergency contact numbers.
You should also consider purchasing (or making) a small running wallet to carry your ID, insurance card, and some cash when you go out. Proper ID is a must in case something unsafe happens to you, and having a bit of cash means you can catch a taxi back home, grab a bite to eat, or pick up other supplies as needed.
Tips for Cycling on Trails
Looking for a change? Try riding on a trail! The Baltimore and Washington, D.C. areas have several amazing mixed-use trails. To use them responsibly when biking, keep these tips in mind:
- Do not ride more than two people abreast and be prepared to drop to single file when necessary to avoid crowding people off the trail.
- Stay to the right unless you are passing someone.
- When you are passing someone, announce yourself either will a bell or calling out “on your left” or “passing on your left” well before you emerge alongside the person you are passing.
Whether you’re riding on the road or the trail, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of doing a quick bike check before you ride. Be sure your tires are properly inflated, mirrors and reflectors are in place, lights are working properly, and you have a tire kit in case you have to fix a flat! Here’s a video to help you do a basic bike check and clean up your bike after your ride. Happy riding!