Whether you’re going to work, out for a joy ride, or looking for a fun way to stay in shape, there’s no denying that bicycle riding has become somewhat of a fad. That said, much like driving a car, it can be dangerous if not done carefully. Next time you think about hitting the road on your two wheeler, take a look at our bike safety tips below—we promise they won’t get in the way of the fun.
Rule #1: Always wear a helmet
Never ride a bike without a well-fitted helmet. According to research, the primary cause of death for cyclists is traumatic brain injury, and those who wear a helmet actually reduce their risk of brain injury by 60%. Helmets come in all shapes and sizes, so make sure yours fits appropriately. A helmet should be snug, but not painful, and it should sit level and low on your head, without covering your eyes. The chin strap should be tightened until you can only fit one finger between the strap and your chin, and once buckled, no part of your helmet should be able to move back and forth.
Rule #2: Make sure your bike is in good condition
Before you go for a ride, check your bike! With your foot on the pedal, adjust the seat height until your legs can straighten all the way out and only have a slight bend at the knee. Wiggle your handlebars to confirm they are firmly in place, but can still turn side to side. Finally, test the wheels and the brakes. Are the wheels straight, tightly secured and filled with air? Do the brakes stop right when you press them? If not, don’t ride your bike until you get it checked by a certified mechanic.
Rule #3: Pay attention!
One of the most important bike safety tips is to be alert at all times. Keep an eye out for potholes, cracks, puddles, railroad tracks, parked cars or anything else that could make you lose control. Look both ways before turning, and use hand signals every time you make a right or left. To make sure you can hear cars coming from behind, don’t listen to music or talk on the phone while riding. It’s the same thing your teacher used to tell you in class—pay attention.
Rule #4: When in doubt, do what the cars do
Riding against traffic in the city is bad for two reasons: 1) it’s dangerous, and 2) you could end up with a ticket. Drivers are used to the patterns of other cars, so don’t weave through traffic, always yield to cars and pedestrians, and be familiar with your state’s driving laws. The more predictable you are as a rider, the the safer you’ll be.
Rule #5: Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
Unless you’re making a hand signal, your hands should never leave the handlebars. The same goes for your feet, too; don’t ride with your legs straight out in front of you. By keeping both feet on the pedals, you’ll have a better chance of stopping quickly in an emergency.
Rule #6: Use lights at night
Being visible at night isn’t just a suggestion; it’s the law. If you’re riding your bike after dark, make sure it has rear reflectors or taillights, and always wear some kind of light on your clothes so passing cars can see you coming. Bike safety tips like these don’t just make your ride easier. They keep you alive, too.