Bike Safety Tips for Summer
A few years ago, my home was in a township with beautiful rolling hills that sport bicyclists (think like Tour de France cyclists) would use for long-distance training runs. While I’m all for people having and loving their sport, it was always very nerve-wracking coming up to the crest of a hill at 50mph and only then seeing the cyclists on a training run in the road.
Now that I’m back in a more populated city, the summer means that sports cyclists and bike commuters are hitting the roads and paths on their bikes. Both amateurs and pros alike may make dangerous mistakes while sharing the road with vehicles.
Their bicycle will never be a match for our cars. If vehicle strikes a bicyclist, the ensuing injuries may be severe or potentially fatal.
What Cyclists Can Do
- Wear reflective gear at night.
- Ride with the flow of traffic. Drivers don’t expect bicyclists to approach from the front, they may not know what to do.
- Don’t turn in front of oncoming vehicles.
- When preparing to turn, signal with your hands before doing so. Always look before turning and avoid making any sudden moves.
- Be prepared to stop at intersections and in front of driveways.
- Don't use headphones and listen to music while cycling. Don't talk on the phone or attempt to text while riding,
- Watch for swerve-worthy hazards. Pot holes, debris that falls from cars, storm grates and uneven surfaces can all cause bicyclists to make the choice between swerving into traffic or hitting the object and falling.
- If there are bike paths or bike lanes, always ride on them before choosing a public sidewalk or a street. Keep in mind that pedestrians always have the right of way on a sidewalk. In some places, it may be illegal to ride on the sidewalk.
- Always stay visible. When there is dim light or no light, wear reflective gear. If possible, stay off the road when it is raining and right after rains.
- Wear a helmet. Shop around to find one that fits properly. Choose one that is certified and check for recalls on CPSC.gov.
What Drivers Can Do
- Drivers must always be vigilant for bicyclists on the road. Many cities are now adding "sharrows" to the roads. These are arrows that indicate a shared right lane for bicyclists and motorists.
- When these arrows are present, it is courteous for drivers to use the lane only for making a right turn if there are bicyclists using it.
These are some additional helpful tips.
- Be a predictable driver. Always use signals when turning or changing lanes.
- Do not assume that bicyclists can see as well. They may not have mirrors.
- Keep a safe distance away from them at the rear, side, and front.
- Allow plenty of room for passing.
- Avoid using a mobile device while driving. Since bicyclists often travel considerably slower than vehicles, drivers may approach them quickly. Distracted drivers who are using mobile devices may not be able to brake in time to avoid an accident.