More and more people are turning to bicycles for fitness and a cheap, clean and fast way to get from place to place. With the increase of riders on the streets however, also comes a rise in cycling-related accidents.
Cycling outdoors is a risk in itself whether you’re a seasoned rider or just starting out. There are many hazards on the road, but by taking precautions and being a smart rider, you can protect yourself from the biggest dangers out there. Here are five of the best ways to stay safe.
Let there be light
When you’re out riding in low-light conditions, such as in regions and during seasons when the night is longer, having bike lights is one of the best ways to keep the road ahead well-lit and also alert other people on the road of your presence. A flashing rear light makes it easier for other riders and drivers to spot you. Make sure your front light and headlamp are bright enough to illuminate objects you might miss in the shadows. A blinker increases visibility during daylight hours, so lighting up even when it’s fairly bright adds to your safety.
Let someone know where you’re going
It’s a good habit to let at least one person know where you’re going and an estimated time of when you’ll be back before you head out on your bike. There are many bike accessories and apps that can help you do just that. For instance, there are small trackers you can stick to your helmet that can send alerts automatically should you end up in a crash. There are also apps that let you share your location in real-time so you can be tracked.
Keep your helmet on
Always wear your helmet, even during short rides. Make it a habit to strap your helmet on before you sit in the saddle. Many cycling-related fatalities are due to severe head trauma, so don’t take your helmet for granted. Check your helmet regularly for cracks, tears and other signs of wear. Replacing a helmet is way cheaper than paying for a hospital bill you could have avoided in the first place.
Bicycles are not exempt from traffic rules, so make sure you obey traffic laws and be alert, especially when there’s plenty of other bikes, cars, trucks and pedestrians around. Stay in your lane, act predictably and make hand signals before turning with caution.
Being smart on the streets also requires you to be mindful of your own “vehicle,” so that means making sure your bike is in good working condition, especially your brakes and lights.
Have emergency info at hand
It may sound grim, but you will no doubt agree that having emergency info readily available will make it easier for first responders to let your emergency contact know in case something happens to you while you’re cycling outdoors. Set up your smartphone to provide emergency info and contact numbers and always carry an ID and a waterproof or laminated card containing emergency contact info as well as pertinent medical info such as allergies or medications. If you have a little more money to spare, invest in wearable identification such as RoadID bracelets.
All of these precautions are a must when cycling outdoors–remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry!