Bike Safety is simple
When riding your bike, you want be seen, be heard, and be prepared. Do all three and you’ll be able to ride with confidence knowing that you’re ready for what the road has in store.
Next to keeping your balance, being seen is perhaps the most important thing a cyclist can do to stay safe while riding. The first words out of the mouth of a motorist who runs into a cyclist are usually “I didn’t see them.” Most drivers aren’t out to get (or hit) cyclists. But good intentions don’t make up for bad driving or poor visibility. When riding, you have to take responsibility for your own safety. You can’t assume drivers are paying attention. You must do everything possible to make sure that drivers are aware of your presence and your intentions.
The easiest way to increase your visibility is the addition of lights on your bike. Drivers are conditioned to notice lights and lights can be seen from far away. A light on the front and a light on the back will make it easier for drivers in front or behind to see you. In addition, it’s important to use hand signals when stopping and turning to alert drivers to your upcoming movements.
Being heard is another important component of bike safety. More and more people are enjoying the great outdoors on weekend and we think that’s great. But more people outside means more congestion on bike and foot paths and that means more chances for collisions between cyclists and pedestrians. In most instances, a cyclist will ride faster than a pedestrian walks or runs. That means, when we’re on our bikes we will usually be passing people on foot (and some on bikes). Trying to avoid a pedestrian at the last moment is risky. It’s much better to let them know you’re approaching ahead of time. If you’ve been riding for a while, you probably do what you’re supposed to do and yell out “on your left!” “On your left” works for cyclists…sometimes. But a lot of people on foot have no idea what “on your left” means. So what is a safety conscious cyclist to do? Get a bell. Cars have horns, bikes have bells. A driver honks to get the attention of someone in front of them, and a cyclist can ring a bell to do the same thing. Having and using a bell reduces the chances of last second collisions between pedestrians and cyclists.
Accidents happen. Ride long enough and you will fall, bump into someone, or be bumped into. We can do a lot to make ourselves seen and alert others to our presence. But we can’t avoid accidents altogether. So we need to be prepared. As cyclists, we have to be responsible for our own safety and well-being. That means being prepared to tend to our wounds and treat the common injuries that occur when we get into an accident. In other words, we need to have a first aid kit. If you have a fall or accident and are seriously injured, by all means, call 911. But if your injury doesn’t require the resources or expertise of a first responder, having a first aid kit with you will allow you to treat your wounds and get back on your bike.
Bike safety is important for everyone who enjoys getting around on two wheels. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep it simple: be seen, be heard, and be prepared.
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