At Nine13sports, we work diligently to promote the numerous benefits that cycling creates. Moreover, our cycling program that we deliver to schools and youth organizations gives us the opportunity to foster a positive and meaningful relationship with thousands of youth in the Central Indiana region and in Portland, Oregon. Here, we’re able to advance students’ knowledge on how imperative fitness and exercise is for their overall health and well-being. A component of cycling, that our organization is deeply passionate about, is the safety and welfare of cyclists as they ride their bikes. No matter where you’re riding, whether it’s on the road or on a trail, it’s fundamental that riders, at ALL TIMES, take the necessary precautions when riding. Below, you’ll find 5 safety measures that are essential to follow before and during your ride to ensure your safety is of the highest priority:
- Use Your Head — This is arguably the most significant safety measure that should be adhered to. Reasons to wear a bicycle helmet include, but are not limited to, are: sets an example for fellow riders, improved visibility to motorists (especially in the pre-dawn or early evening hour), and protection from unpredictable weather. However, the most notable reason is to defend yourself against serious head injuries. According to American Family Physician, approximately 22 to 47 percent of injured cyclists experience head injuries, which are also responsible for 60 percent of all bike-related deaths. Furthermore, another precaution to take regarding helmets is to make sure it’s fitted and fastened correctly. The helmet should fit snugly and not move when you shake your head.
- Do Your ABC Quick Check — Before each ride, it’s vital that you check your bike and ensure it’s safe to ride. Use “ABC Quick Check” as an easy reminder for what to check:
- Air: If your tires give a bit when your press with your thumb, they need some air.
- Brakes: When you squeeze your brakes hard, you should be able to fit your thumb between the brake levers and the handlebars. Check that your brake pads aren’t worn out – if they are, replace them.
- Chain, Crank, Cassette: Make sure your chain is running smoothly – lightly oiled and free of rust and gunk – by spinning it backwards a few revolution
- Quick Release: If your bike has quick release wheels, make sure the release levers are securely closed.
- Check: As you start to ride, listen for any rubbing, grinding or clicking noises that might indicate something isn’t working correctly.
- Follow the Rules of the Road: Generally, it’s either illegal or unsafe to ride on the sidewalk or on the road towards oncoming traffic. By and large, it’s best to ride in the direction of traffic, staying as far to the right as you can. However, make sure there is room to handle emergencies and that you do not ride so close to the right that you risk hitting the curb and being thrown into traffic. There are times when you simply cannot stay to the far right—whether it’s to pass another cyclist or vehicle, to make a left turn, or to avoid a potential hazard. Be sure to wait for a safe and clear opportunity and use the proper hand signals when you take a lane.
- Stay Visible: If drivers can see you, the chances of them hitting you drop drastically. To increase your visibility to motorists, it’s recommended that you wear bright, highly-visible colors, therefore, they can easily detect you on the road. What’s more, a red taillight, flashing or not, should be worn only behind you—on your backpack, on your bicycle, etc. In the same way in which they’re used for motor vehicles, red lights are for the rear and white lights are for the front. It lets drivers know if you’re coming or going.
- Act Like a Car: Drivers are used to the patterns of other drivers and expect you to do the same. To that end, don’t weave in and out of traffic and be as predictable as possible. The more predictable you ride, the safer you will be. Additionally, you should always let other drivers know when you’re turning, changing lanes, or stopping. Look and make eye contact. Don’t assume drivers will stop.
By no means is this a comprehensive list of all the rules, regulations, and safety measures that should be followed when riding your bike. For a more comprehensive resource, please refer to the Quick Guide by The League of American Bicyclists. The Quick Guide is an easy-to-read booklet that outlines the basic rules of the road, components of a bicycle, and all of the information you need to ride a bike safely and confidently.