Taking up cycling is a great decision for a number of reasons. In the era where automobiles seem to rule the roads and the state of the planet is becoming critical, switching your means of transportation to two wheels contributes to a cleaner environment. Cycling can also be a cost-effective decision–after all, other than the initial investment, your bike will take you to your destination free of charge. And lastly, but most importantly for you, cycling is an incredibly healthy activity. Those who bike regularly keep themselves fit and are expected to experience fewer age-related health problems down the line. Biking is the perfect exercise for your heart and considering that it’s low-impact, it is available to anyone. The health benefits of biking are even present in the mental health department: it not only gives you a good workout, but it even allows you to spend time outdoors.
However, what about the risks? After all, you will be out there in traffic, with motorists around you. Keeping safety considerations in mind at all times is the only way to reap all the amazing benefits of this activity. Here’s what you need to know about bicycle safety on the road.
Be aware of the rules
It should go without saying that you have to know all the rules of the road, both for your own and for other people’s safety. When you’re cycling on the road, you are also considered as a vehicle, so the same rules apply to you as to motorists. This means that, naturally, you have to stop at traffic lights and stop signs, yield to pedestrians, signal your turns and cycle with the flow of traffic. You should never attempt overtaking from the right and you must always stick to the appropriate lanes. Wearing protective gear might also be required if you’re underage, so check your local regulations to be safe.
Choose the right paths
Cycling on the sidewalk is unsafe for pedestrians and can even be prohibited in some places, so you should always stick to bike paths when they are available. In their absence, the side of the road is the way to go. However, keep in mind that some roads may not allow cyclists. What this means is that you should do some more careful route planning for your best interests. Sometimes, it might be a good idea to take a slightly longer route that is safer and more comfortable. So, don’t stick to the same route if the path is of poor quality and could pose a hazard. Choose streets that have light traffic or dedicated bike lanes. It might take a while to explore your options but it’s for the sake of your well-being.
Adopt safe habits
While the world around you might pose dangers, it is often our own misconduct that is to blame for accidents. Therefore, doing away with any potentially dangerous habits you might have is paramount. First of all, keep your eyes on the road. Using mobile phones while cycling is extremely dangerous. You should also steer clear of wearing headphones. Listening to something not only distracts you but also potentially prevents you from hearing crucial sounds around you. Needless to say, letting go of the handlebars of your bike is also too dangerous. Keeping both of your hands on the handlebars allows you to pull the brakes immediately, if necessary. It also ensures balance.
Make sure your bike is safe
To ensure your safety, you have to ensure the vehicle you’re riding is also safe. If you’re planning on using an old or second-hand bike, make sure you inspect it for wear and tear. Replacing wheels or brakes is a much better option than risking them failing you on the road. If you’re planning on purchasing a new bike, make sure you pick the right type. For instance, for riding in the city, look for reliable road bikes for sale, as these are the most suitable. If necessary, adjust the height of your seat to ensure maximum stability and comfort.
Get protective gear
Protective gear might not be mandatory for adult cyclists, however, adding another layer of protection will ensure your safety even if an unexpected situation arises. Wearing a well-fitted, proper helmet could mean the difference between life and death, so you should consider this minor inconvenience for your own sake. Protective eyewear can also come in handy. It will prevent any insects from flying into your eyes, but it’s also useful when dust and gravel are kicked up on the road. Finally, consider biker gloves, which are going to protect your hands, should you fall off your bike, but are also invaluable in colder weather.
Besides protective gear, there are also other pieces of safety equipment that should be part of your arsenal. First of all, to maximize your visibility, make sure you wear bright and reflective clothing. If you don’t have special reflective clothing, you can simply add a reflective vest on top and easily remove it once you’ve arrived at your destination. It’s important to wear this even during the day, but it’s absolutely necessary in the morning and at night. Your bike should also be equipped with appropriate lights. A white light on the front and a red light on the rear that are visible from a distance are mandatory.
Be prepared for the unexpected
Finally, while it’s impossible to foresee unexpected circumstances, you should do your best to be prepared. For instance, make sure you watch out for the weather. Check the forecast and wear waterproof clothing if necessary. In sunny weather, make sure you protect your skin by applying sunscreen. Your bike should also be equipped with a bike kit in case it breaks down. When you’re going for a longer ride, be sure to carry a bottle of water. It should go without saying that you should always have your cell phone and ID on you, as well as some money for emergencies.
Road dangers should not deter you from reaping all the healthy benefits of this amazing activity. Memorize the rules and always stay vigilant and responsible, and you’ll be able to cycle safely even in an urban environment.