Riding your bicycle can be a wonderfully pleasant experience; a fresh breeze rustling your hair, gentle exercise, and the road less traveled are all major benefits of this favorite pastime. This being said, bicycle accidents can quickly ruin the experience. The following will explore a few things that you might want to keep in mind if you want to avoid bicycle accidents and stay safe while you’re on the road.
Understand Your Rights And Responsibilities
Just like when driving a vehicle, there are driver rights and responsibilities when you take a bike out on the road. Be sure that you’re up-to-date on what is expected of you as a cyclist, including where you can ride your bike and what signals you’re required to give. It’s also important to know what other people are entitled to provide for you. If you suspect that someone has put your safety at risk, reach out to a local law firm that specializes in bicycle cases and accidents. Cyclists have legal protections while on the road, just like drivers do.
Beyond your legal requirements, you might want to focus on driving defensively. Keep yourself alert and attentive, doing your best to anticipate how other vehicles and bikers are going to react. The sooner you notice a potential conflict, the faster you can take action to reduce the risk of it coming about.
Wear Your Helmet
This point shouldn’t have to be put on the list, but unfortunately, it does. Wearing a helmet is the single most important thing you can do while biking to mitigate risks. While all parts of your body can be harmed should you fall off your bike or crash into something, damage to your head is more likely to have life-altering effects. You don’t want to be struggling with a condition or uncomfortable experience for the rest of your life just because you didn’t wear a helmet one time. A helmet can reduce your risk of head injury by as much as 85%. Seeing as head injuries are responsible for about 62% of deaths on bicycles, this is really important.
When you have found yourself a helmet, make sure to take appropriate steps to ensure that it fits snugly. The helmet should sit level on your head (if it’s moving around, it’s too big) with one or two finger-widths between your eyebrow and the helmet. This means it’s going to sit low on your forehead. The side straps should form a “V” shape under and a little in front of your ears. Once the helmet is buckled beneath your chin, you should be able to fit one or two fingers between your chin and the strap; any more than this, and you need to tighten it.
If your helmet doesn’t fit even after being adjusted or if it has become damaged, you need to get a new one. Broken, cracked, or strapless helmets are not as effective as ones in pristine condition.
Bike Maintenance And Size
Just like a helmet’s power to keep you safe is negated if it doesn’t fit or isn’t maintained, your bike needs to be cared for and the right size for you. A bike that’s too big is harder to control, which increases the chances of you not being able to maneuver properly. Moreover, if your bike is in need of maintenance, you’re also increasing your risk of harm by riding it. Your tires should be inflated; your brakes should be working, your chain oiled enough that it’s not incredibly difficult to paddle, and all other elements should be in working condition.
Wear Safe Clothing
There are a lot of ways your clothing can put you at risk while biking. First, you want to ensure that you’re visible from a distance so that cars have the time to see you and slow down. This means wearing bright clothing during the day and reflective gear (both on your body and on your bike) at night or in conditions that are poor, like a thick fog. Second, you’re going to want to be wary of any parts of your clothing that can be lifted up and away from your person as you bike. Scarves are particularly dangerous as they can get caught on things and tug sharply on your neck; take all scarves off before biking. You also want to tuck and tie your shoelaces, so they don’t get caught on your bike.
The above information should help you stay safe while biking. It’s important to understand that even if all safety precautions are taken, it doesn’t mean that an accident can’t happen. Always listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel safe, find an alternative that does.