This article from Mirror popped up on my newsfeed today: Impatient Cyclist Nearly Crushed to Death by Drawbridge After Ignoring Stop Signs
Reading it made me slap a palm to my face. This, my fellow cyclists, is the epitome of stupid cycling. The incident, occurring in Wisconsin, very luckily ended with fortunate results. The cyclist was spotted by the bridge operator who stopped the bridge from continuing its upward motion.
On this note, I would like to share 13 tips with you all that will remind us how to cycle responsibly. For the safety of ourselves and the safety of others, let’s do our parts as pedestrians sharing the road and follow these rules.
13 Safety Tips for Cyclists
- Choose a bike that suits your needs and your size. There are all kinds of bicycles out there for the picking. If you’re going to be cycling on the road and commuting to and from work every day, getting a BMX bike might not be the right choice for you. Read my past posts titled “How to Pick a Road Bike” and “How To Pick A Bicycle Frame Size.”
- Clean and maintain your bike. If you don’t do this, chances are that you’ll run into some costly and potentially dangerous roadblocks with your dirty or rusty bicycle on the road. To avoid this, clean your bike regularly and make sure that it’s well maintained. Clean your bicycle breaks, maintain your breaks, and learn how to troubleshoot your bike. By doing this, you will extend the life of your bike and protect yourself and others.
- Know how to fix a bicycle flat. Plain and simple, this is Cycling 101 for anyone navigating a bicycle. If you’re out and about, protect yourself by knowing how to change a flat and carrying the proper gear with you to do so at all times.
- Avoid the “door zone.” A good friend of mine flew off of his bike, landed on pavement, and broke three fingers on his right hand by ignoring this rule. The “door zone” is the area on the side of the street where cars park and can hit you by opening their doors. Oftentimes, motorists are not paying attention to the bicycle lane when they’re getting out of their vehicles. Take it upon your shoulders to stay out of this area to avoid injury.
- Pass behind pedestrians. Instead of passing in front of those walking on paths or the sidewalk, pass behind them. If you ride your bike through the space behind them, it will reduce confusion and prevent them from jumping in front of you. Don’t shoot ahead; give plenty of room and stay behind.
- Stay in the middle of the lane in the city. Although it might seem scary and counterintuitive, the safest place for a cyclist riding in the city is in the middle of the road. Motorists naturally follow driving laws in this environment and know to give you space and your rights of way. When you ride to the side, it increases the chances of motorists not seeing you or not knowing how to handle your presence.
- Slow down at intersections. A great number of accidents happen at intersections where individuals are already confused about who goes next or are apt to run red lights. Make sure that you give yourself a great deal of time and space to stop, look, and note any potential dangers.
- Ride in the same direction as traffic. I’ve seen far too many cyclists going against the flow of the road and, let me tell you, it is dangerous. Head-on collisions can happen way to easily in this scenario. Follow the rules of the road by riding in the same direction as traffic to avoid a nasty accident.
- Know your hand signals. Refresh yourself regarding how to signal a left turn, right turn, and stopping. Also, make these motions big. Be an actor and extend your arm as far as you can reach to be sure that others around you know what you’re doing.
- Always wear a helmet. Period, end of story.
- Wear protective gear. Even though some may consider this unfashionable, it’s more worth it to be safe than to be trendy. If you’re not comfortable wearing a vest, there are all kinds of reflectors that you can attach to other parts of your bike so that you are visible on the road.
- Get a mirror for your handlebars. This will allow you to see what’s going on behind you at all times. If you want to go super high tech, look into getting a bicycle radar that notifies you of oncoming traffic.
- Ride defensively and stay alert. You are at a much greater risk on the road than those protected by the security of their cars. Be alert at all times and always anticipate that cars, other bicycles, and other pedestrians aren’t paying attention (because oftentimes, they’re not).
Hopefully these tips gave you a refresher regarding how to be a responsible cyclist. Responsible cycling is the best way to ride, my friends. Keep safe and happy cycling!