Cycling Tips to Share The Road Safely

From the time we were children, bicy- cles have been a fun, pure and healthy way to engage in physical activity and commute from point A to point B. Whatever your reason for riding, one thing is common — and paramount — among all people who ride a bike: safety.

Yes, wearing a helmet and following the rules of the road are of utmost importance. However, avoiding an accident in the first place should be the main objective.

The most common collision happens when a cyclist is headed straight and a car turns right, into the same trajectory of the bike. Always be aware of your surroundings. When this situation presents itself, move further left if safe to do so, slow down in advance, and look the driver in the eye. If you are unsure whether the driver sees you, wave your arm. Wearing a headlight (even in the day), bright colors, and adding a small bell to your bike can help.

Another common collision happens when a cyclist is struck by the sudden opening of a parked car’s door. To avoid this, ride to the left, about the width of a car door, when pass- ing parked cars on your right. Don’t swerve in and out of the bike lane; stay consistent and predictable. Cars behind you are legally supposed to share the road with you, and this scenario is no exception.

When appropriate, such as at intersec- tions or in more congested areas, do not hug the curb. This makes you less visible. Drivers sometimes assume you can stop quickly or that“the bike can wait.”

Other common car-bike accidents happen with a car is making a left turn, right in front of an oncoming cyclist. The driver may not see you or might assume you are leisurely travel- ing at 8 miles per hour.

Do not ride on the sidewalk unless abso- lutely necessary and for very short distanc- es. This is illegal and unsafe. Bicycle speeds are too fast and can cause injuries and fa- talities. Slowing down at intersections can also help.

Being hit from behind is a common fear, but actually only comprises about 3.8% of all col- lisions, according to bicyclinglife.com. This risk can be minimized by wearing bright, reflec- tive clothing — even during the day — and by assuming a predictable riding style.

Don’t take chances. Bicycling is a healthy, fun, enjoyable way to achieve a variety of objectives. But you take a risk every time you climb onto your bicycle. Do your part to keep yourself and others as safe as possible.

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