While bicycle safety on our roadways is the responsibility of everyone—cyclists and motorists alike—unfortunately, the burden of ensuring safety usually f
While bicycle safety on our roadways is the responsibility of everyone—cyclists and motorists alike—unfortunately, the burden of ensuring safety usually falls on the shoulders of the cyclist. Here are ten important things that cyclists can do to keep themselves safe on the road:
- Always wear a helmet. In California, bicycle riders under the age of 18 are legally required to wear a bicycle helmet when riding on a public road. But wearing a helmet isn’t just the law: it makes sense. Brain injury is the primary cause of death in cycling crashes, and helmets are 85-88% effective in preventing these injuries.
- Maintain your bicycle. Make sure that your bicycle is a good fit for your body size, is properly adjusted and is in good working condition.
- Handle your bike with skill. Being a skilled bicyclist increases your control on the road and your ability to avoid hazards. Make sure you can start, stop and turn your bike, ride in a straight line, stay balanced even at slow speeds, and look over your shoulder without swerving.
- Obey all traffic signs and signals. This means stopping at stop signs and red lights.
- Be visible. Even though motorists have an obligation to share the road with you, and even when you are obeying all traffic laws, bicyclists need to take extra precautions to make themselves seen on the road. Wear brightly colored clothing, install mirrors on your bicycle, and use reflectors and headlamps. Watch traffic closely and be prepared to react.
- Be alert to hazards—from other motorists or from the road itself. Watch for warning signs of possible collisions, such as a motorist turning right in front of you or a parked car opens a door into your path. Also look out for potholes, poor road conditions, broken glass, and other hazards. Be prepared to take quick action.
- Ride with traffic. Riding with the traffic makes bikers more visible to other drivers on the road.
- Know where to ride on the road. If there is a bike lane or path available, use it. If not, then ride to the right of the lane you are in. If there is no shoulder or bike lane and the traffic lane is too narrow, then ride closer to the center of the lane.
- Ride to the right, but not too far to the right. Do not ride so close to the right side of the road that you risk hitting the curb or running into parked cars or other road hazards. Also avoid the far right when the lane of traffic is too narrow to ride beside a car, when making a left turn, or to avoid conflicts with right-turning vehicles.
- Make left turns with caution. The safest two ways to turn left are to use the traffic lanes themselves or to use the crosswalk and cross the intersection like a pedestrian. If using the traffic lanes, always be sure to check behind you before moving to the left of your lane or moving over a lane. Position yourself so that vehicles cannot pass you on your left while you are turning.