Bicycles: What you Need to Know Before Taking to the Streets
With rising fuel prices and a more environmentally aware populace, bicycles are becoming quite popular again. Granted, we aren’t building makeshift ramps in our driveways and impressing our friends by nearly breaking every bone in our body, but we are still reverting back to the age-old tradition of using your own leg power to get from “Point A” to “Point B”. In fact, many cities are even establishing “bike lanes” that protect cyclists from traffic, while protecting pedestrians from cyclists. Everyone, it seems, is getting on board with the use of bicycles for short commutes.
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But, lost in the migration toward peddling our way to and fro, lies the safety issues for cyclists that are seemingly everywhere. Given the increased bicycle traffic, many motorists do not know have to react with riding near a bicycle on a side street. Further, many cities don’t have the necessary infrastructure to establish a separate lane, as those that we mentioned above. So, to help you avoid these safety issues, we’ve compiled some information that every cyclist should read before strapping on that helmet and heading downtown for work tomorrow morning…
Much like our Driver’s Education teacher always told us….”Drive like no one else on the road knows what they are doing!” Yep, Defensive Driving still applies, even when we’re on bikes. So, for our purposes here, we’ll tab it “Defensive Cycling”.
From intersections to same-lane traveling, cyclists must be aware of foot and motor traffic AT ALL TIMES. Remember, even on a bicycle, you have to follow applicable traffic laws, so to protect yourself, and any pedestrians around you, check out some of the following resources centered on Defensive Cycling:
- Bicycle Safety: How to Not Get Hit by Cars
- Kids and Bicycle Safety
- WSDOT - Bicycle Safety Tips
- Yield to Life - 10 Safety Tips For Cyclists
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Safety equipment, such as a helmet, can help you prevent head injuries should you fall off the bicycle or be involved in a collision. Also, take note of the “gear” that most motorcyclists wear. For example, leathers are great for aesthetic, but you realize that they serve a purpose, right? Leathers actually help to prevent road rash in the event of a fall or collision. While we don’t expect you to get decked out in some leathers, be sure to check out some cycle clothing that has added safety features like elbow or knee padding.
In addition to clothing, lighting systems are being mandatory in some areas, and for good reason. Make yourself a checklist of safety gear, and do your best to add it to your cycling routine. Here are a few resources to check out on that particular topic:
For Greater Detail...
…check out this safety video from the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration):
The Take Away...
The important thing that we hope cyclists take away from this segment is that paying close attention to PREVENTATIVE measures is the key to true bicycle safety. The health benefits to cycling to work pair nicely with the financial benefits, but always be sure that you have your safety in mind. In doing so, you’ll protect pedestrians, yourself, and other cyclists that may be sharing the road with you.