Biking is an excellent method of transportation: it’s clean and green, as well as a fun and a great way to exercise that is kind to your knees and you can do at any age. If you commute to work on your bike, sometimes, depending on traffic, you can get to where you’re going faster than a car! As the days get longer and the temperatures get warmer around the country, more and more people are pulling their bikes out of the garage and gearing up for a ride. Yet I happen to know three people who are in wheelchairs as the result of biking accidents, and while I don’t want to damper your enthusiasm for cycling (I also love to go for a ride), it’s always good to review the basics of bike safety.
Always wear a helmet. Who cares about helmet hair? That helmet protects your brains. You need them. Your safety will always be more important. Wear it every time you are on a bicycle, no matter how short or safe the ride seems to you. Learn to love your helmet.
Safety before speed. You may be in a hurry to get to work, or you want to push yourself in your workout. But it is critical to sacrifice speed if and when it jeopardizes your safety. Yes, you may be vigilant in obeying the cycling rules, but you can’t control what everyone else is doing around you. In urban environments with dedicated car lanes, you should be especially careful and ride at least four feet away from parked cars, on the off chance they don’t see you before swinging a door open (which, if you’re going fast enough, will flip you over their door and onto the pavement or traffic). The same goes with crowded park routes—someone may not see you or get out of the way quickly enough, which can result in a collision and damage to you and your bike. Slow down. You’ll still get the great health benefits of cycling, and maybe even enjoy the view a little more, too.
Visual and auditory cues help other passengers, cyclists and drivers. Intersections are dangerous, and where most accidents occur. Use the appropriate hand signals to indicate you are turning left, right or stopping. Ring your bell or horn to get noticed if you think someone doesn’t see you coming. And use front and rear lights and a fluorescent vest when cycling at night. New LED and xenon lights greatly improve your visibility at dusk and in the dark.
Ride in the direction of traffic. Riding in the direction of traffic is the law and is safer not only for you, but also for every other person, cyclist or vehicle on the street.
Get a bike tune-up at least once a year. You want to make sure the brakes are working properly, your tires have air, your bike is shifting properly, your chain is greased, and those brakes work. A mechanical error as a result of maintenance neglect can result in a dangerous and/or painful spill on the pavement.
Basic Physics of Tires and Roads. Bicycle tires require friction to keep you moving and erect while riding. Both water and more profoundly, ice, greatly reduce the coefficient of friction between the tire and the road and increase the potential of a slip or fall. Painted stripes on the road can equally complicate things. It’s advisable to put up the bike in inclement weather conditions and seek an alternative method of transportation.
Enroll in an Online Bike Safety Course. Many states offer violation forgiveness for motor vehicle drivers if they take Driving Safety Courses. Similarly, even if you have been riding a bicycle for the past fifty years, re-emphasizing the fundamentals of bicycle safety can be critically important to your welfare. Online bake safety courses range from free to inexpensive.
Put the Bike on a Trainer. Your bicycle can also be used as a stationary trainer by many commercially available units. You can place this in the corner of a room, outside on a porch or balcony…and reap the benefits of fresh air and exercise without traffic concerns.
You can’t control the other passengers, cyclists and drivers on the road. But you can control what you do. I want you to bike to work (if and when you can) and for pleasure; it is a great way to really Live It, but I want you to bike doing all you can to take the proper precautions for your safety, and in following these tips, you can.
Live It, Your Life—Healthier, Happier, Longer™ by Dr. Gary Clayman is a comprehensive life program that promotes wellness, strength, vigor, and longevity and combats obesity, cancer, and other chronic debilitating diseases so you can Live It, Your Life—Healthier, Happier, Longer™, the way it was meant to be, joyously.