Bicycle safety is mostly common sense, but it must be combined with some knowledge of biking road rule to ensure you’re able to be safe on your bicycle.
Dress for the occasion
Never get on your bike without a helmet. Bike safety and wearing a helmet are inseparable concepts, and should be non-negotiable for you and your children. Wearing a helmet while on your bike could just save your life, and greatly reduces the risk of severe head injury.
With your head safe, make sure your clothing is also suited to bike safety. Pants with wide or loose fitting legs can easily get caught in the chain while riding and should be avoided. If you or your child is riding with a backpack, make sure the straps don’t dangle, for similar safety reasons. Wearing bright, reflecting clothes makes you more visible to other cyclists and motorists on the roads. Easily worn reflective arm / ankle bands are not hard to carry.
Shoes are also important to keep in mind for bicycle safety. Never ride your bike barefoot! While biking is popular in the summer, biking in sandals or flip flops can be dangerous: shoes without proper grips can cause your feet to slip as you pedal, throwing off your balance and putting you in danger of falling. The same rule applies for shoes with high heels and cleats. Sneakers and running shoes are the best choice for cycling.
Always check your equipment
Before you go out for a ride, check your bike. Make sure brakes are working and that the brake pads are not worn. Check tires for air and make sure your gears are working.
Check that your lights, bells, and reflectors are working, and carry batteries in your bag for emergencies.
Checking your equipment also means checking your helmet. A helmet that does not fit properly or is damaged will not be able to keep you safe: make sure yours fits snugly, and that the strap is adjusted for you. Make sure you check your helmet for wear and tear, especially for cracks.
Be aware of others while out on your bike. Bike safely by letting people know what your intentions are, using hand signals before you make any change in movements, whether you are turning, braking, or changing lanes. Hand signals will alert others to your intentions, and allows drivers to give you the space you need to move as you intend. Do not weave in and out of traffic: drivers should be able to predict your every move when near you.
Rules of the road for cyclists
Bicycle riders must obey the same rules of the roads as vehicle drivers. With this comes the same responsibility to yourself and others. Biking safety rules mean you must stop for traffic signals and stop signs, and stay in lane of the flow of traffic.
When passing a car, cyclists should do so in a straight line with no abrupt movements. Any cyclist found breaking bike riding rules will be just as liable for traffic offenses as a motorist would.
How to recognize road hazards
The truth is that while cyclist safety is the responsibility of drivers and cyclists alike, cyclists are at a greater risk due to the number of hazards that present danger to bike riders, and not to motorists.
Roundabouts and T-Junctions are especially hazardous for cyclists, as unfortunately, drivers in these situations are less likely to slow down and yield the right of way.
Potholes are another risk factor for cyclists and are often difficult to circumnavigate. Bike safety tips for dealing with potholes include avoiding routes where you know the condition of the road is poor, and cycling around potholes by positioning yourself on either side of them.
Lastly, bike riders must watch out for parked cars, as many accidents have been caused by car doors opening in the path of a cyclist. The only way to avoid this is to keep your eyes open and stay alert, in hopes of seeing the door begin to open while you still have time to stop or move out of the way.
Bike safety rules for cycling on the sidewalk
If you intend to cycle on the sidewalk, you will need to check out the bike rules of the jurisdiction in which you wish to do so. While some states allow bikes on sidewalks, many states forbid it. In most states, riding a bike on the sidewalk is only allowed for children aged 13 and under. Wherever you are, here are some safety tips for cycling and the sidewalk:
- Show respect for the people walking on the sidewalk. Pedestrians usually feel safe while walking on the sidewalk, and having cyclists speeding by can be a frightening and infuriating surprise.
- Be careful when coming off the sidewalk onto the road; drivers are not often expecting to see a cyclist come onto a road from the sidewalk and accidents can happen as a result.
Teaching bike safety to kids
Kids and bikes go hand in hand. What could be more fun than a family day out on bikes? Fresh air, exercise, and family time. Be proactive however, about instilling bike safety practices in your children from a very young age, including:
- Safety gear: a properly fitting helmet should always be worn. Reflective gear should be encouraged too, so that children are visible at all times
- Bike repair: make sure brakes are working, and check the gears and chain every time before setting off
- Distractions: make sure children know to be aware of their surroundings at all times, listening and looking out for potential dangers around them. Headphones and cell phones should be safely tucked away or left at home!
- Lead by example: let your children see you following the rules for riding a bike on the road and it will become second nature to them too!
If you have had the misfortune to be involved in any kind of incident or accident while on your bike and need legal support, the Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at Valiente Mott are here to help. We offer many years of experience and a dedicated, expert team who are waiting on the other end of a call to give you guidance. Get in touch with us today and let us answer any questions you may have about bicycle safety laws.