Your goal is to be aware and to protect yourself in the best way you can. Get in the habit of practicing safe cycling whether you’re training competitively or biking two blocks to the grocery store. There will always be distracted drivers and unforeseen circumstances wherever you are. You are responsible for protecting yourself in the best way possible.
Check that your tires and brakes are working
Get in the habit of keeping your bike in optimal shape.
For more information on how to maintain and clean your bike check out this article from Total Women’s Cycling!
TIP: If you need to brake suddenly, do not slam your front brakes. Slam the back brakes instead and lean you weight backwards to avoid flying over handlebars.
Bike with a helmet
97% of cyclists who have died were not wearing helmets.
Be seen, wear bright colors
Ninjas wear all black because they don’t want to be seen.
Be aware of time of day
When biking in the dark, be sure to use front and rear lights. If night riding is a routine, invest in pedal reflectors and a helmet light.
TIP: Put white lights on the front and blinking red lights on the back – cars will associate white with headlights and red with brake lights.
Don’t text and ride
Refrain from wearing headphones or checking your phone. Stay focused.
Invest in a safety light/camera
The best way to record the moment of a crash is to have a dashcam.
Check out Cycliq for bike cameras!
Check the weather
When it rains be extra vigilant – road bike wheels can slip and slide.
TIP: Reduce wheel tire pressure by 15-20 psi when biking in the rain to reduce risk of slipping (For more on optimal tire inflation, check out this article by Bicycling Magazine. Watch our for road markings that are extra slippery and avoid hitting them at a sharp angle by taking wider turns.
Find a buddy
The bigger the group, the easier you’re seen by cars. Find cycling teams to train with, or friends/co-workers that commute the same route.
Accessible emergency contacts
Ensure strangers can contact someone who is close to you in the event of an accident.
Check out Road ID for customizable emergency bracelets!
As cyclists, we are not exempt from the laws that drivers must obey. Take some time to check the cycling laws in your specific state and respect them. Don’t give cyclists a bad rep by weaving in and out of traffic without a care in the world.
Check out this website from Bike League for state-specific bike laws.
Obey all traffic signals
The same basic rules of the road apply to cyclists as much as cars. Do not run red lights or sprint when the light is about to turn red.
Ride with traffic, not against
Don’t ride too far over to the right, ensure cars can see you in their line of sight. Being too far over to the right may provoke risky maneuvers such as sudden overtaking that may force you off the road.
Positioning on the road
For more information on traffic laws with videos to clarify, visit: The League of American Bicyclists.
Speed positioning: The slowest vehicles on the road should be the furthest to the right. Where you position yourself on the road depends on the location of any parked cars, your speed, and your destination. Always pass on the left.
Lane positioning: Bikes can share the same lane with other drivers. If a lane is wide enough to share with another vehicle (about 14 feet), ride three feet to the right of traffic. If the lane is not wide enough to share, “take the lane” by riding in the middle.
Intersection positioning: When there is a lane that is used for more than one direction, use the rightmost lane going in the direction you are traveling.
Yield to traffic and pedestrians
This article provides real-world examples to illustrate how cyclists can employ the basis rules of the road to optimize their safety and efficiency when negotiating traffic: North Carolina Bike Education
Avoid busy traffic roads
Take back streets even when it’s a slightly longer route – road rage is real.
Don’t weave in and out of traffic or make sudden turns without signaling.
DO NOT DRINK AND RIDE
~30% of cyclists killed in the U.S. had been drinking (Blood alcohol over 0.01%) based on data released for 2017 by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Be Wary of these Situations – There are certain scenarios that deserve extra caution
Biking right next to parked cars
Be aware of drivers opening car doors without warning as you bike past. The minimum distance you should put between yourself and parked cars is ~3-4 ft to give yourself a chance to react if/when a door opens suddenly.
Be aware of drivers that may back out of driveways quickly without looking.
We’ve all seen cars make unpredictable sudden turns/change of lanes at intersections. Slow down and be extra cautious.
Drivers may not expect or see you in a turn lane.
Check out this website: http://bicyclesafe.com for possible collision scenarios.