According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 630 bicyclists were killed and 51,000 were injured in 2009. Bicycle crashes and injuries are under-reported, because the majority of bike accident injuries are not serious enough for emergency room visits, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help prevent a bicycle accident. Follow and share these safety tips with your family and friends; they could just save a life.
1. Bicyclists must obey the rules of the road like drivers of any other vehicles: Obey traffic signs and signals.
2. Don’t be a salmon: Swimming upstream may lead to reproduction for these fish, but it likely won’t result in the same outcome for cyclists. Therefore, never ride against traffic, as motorists aren’t looking-out for you when you’re on the wrong side of the road.
3. Wear a helmet: Head injuries typically result in the worst consequences, so use your noggin to protect your noggin.
4. Keep both hands on the handlebars, and be ready to brake: You don’t have to be an expert on Newton’s law of motion to realize that slamming on one brake while biking can end in a not-so-acrobatic flip. Unfortunately, I still learned this the hard way in a recent bike accident. Also, make sure you allow extra distance in the rain, since brakes are less effective when wet.
5.) Use hand signals: Hand signals tell motorists and pedestrians where you intend to turn, and it becomes a matter of law, courtesy, and protection.
6. Use lights at night: The law requires a white headlight (visible from at least 500 feet ahead) and a rear reflector or taillight (visible up to 300 feet from behind) when you ride at night. Wearing reflective clothing at night also helps you to be seen.
7. Be predictable and make eye contact with drivers: Ride in a straight line and don’t assume that drivers can see you.
8. Sidewalk vs. street riding: The safest place to ride a bike is on the street where cyclists are expected to follow the same rules of the road. However, children less than 10 years old are better-off riding on the sidewalk. Check the laws in your state to make sure sidewalk riding is allowed. Alert pedestrians that you are near by saying, “Excuse me,” or “Passing on your left.” Bells also help.
9. Ride in the middle of the lane when you are traveling the same speed as traffic: You can also get in the middle of the lane at busy intersections.
10. Choose the best way to turn left: There are two choices: (1) Like an auto: signal to move into the left turn lane and then turn left. (2) Like a pedestrian: ride straight to the far side crosswalk. Walk your bike across.
Local Fort Collins residents can visit http://www.fcgov.com/bicycling/trafficsafety.php for more bicycle safety tips. The League of American Bicyclists also has tips for smart cycling along with other important information you can find about bicycle commuting in your area.