As a cyclist in a world that’s dominated by motor vehicles, you must find it hard to navigate the streets safely, especially in cities where cars are usually stacked bumper-to-bumper. To guarantee your safety, there are a few things you should know. Here are the four most essential road safety tips for cyclists.
1. Wear a Bike Helmet
While it is sometimes neglected, a helmet is an essential piece of protective gear. Research shows that it reduces the risk of brain injury by 63–88%. In other words, a proper helmet could be the difference between a minor concussion and a permanent cognitive disability. That said, there are two things that you ought to consider when picking out a bike helmet. First, your helmet has to be a snug fit. To ensure that, wrap a tape measure around your head, above the ears, and the eyebrows. The measurement will help you when in the store. Second, your helmet box should indicate that the product is designed for cycling. The inside of the helmet should also have a sticker indicating that the helmet is designed as per the Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines.
2. Situational Awareness
Situational awareness is the ultimate key to preserving your safety on the road. Carelessness, especially in busy states like New York and New Jersey, is one of the leading causes of bike accidents, and the court recognizes it as so. In order to guarantee compensation for the damages you sustained, an experienced bicycle accident attorney in New Jersey says you will need to prove you weren’t at fault. Carelessness classifies as negligence, which is a traffic offense, and no insurance company will compensate a negligent cyclist, even if they weren’t the main culprit. To avoid putting yourself in such a position, keep all of your senses engaged while riding. In other words, listen out for honks and engine noises, use your peripherals for a more inclusive field of vision, try to anticipate the other drivers’ moves, and plot your own route ahead of time.
3. Be Predictable
While being on a bike gives you the lightness and the freedom that a car would never be able to, you can’t forget that, as long as you’re driving on the road, you have to think like the other cars. Meaning, don’t ride fast enough that you end up putting yourself in a situation where you’d have to improvise quickly. If you have to improvise, the car behind you will have to do the same, and you can never fully trust that they will do so in time. Ideally, when riding, you want to stay within the bike lane, if there is one. If you’re forced to venture into traffic, stay on the rightmost side of the road. If you can’t stay on the right, then before you switch lanes, ensure that there are no cars where you’re switching. For everyone’s sake, spread out your arm and hand to indicate that you’re switching lanes. Otherwise, you might risk turning into a vehicle. Being predictable also means not making any sudden movements that would surprise the average driver.
4. Learn to Crash
You can live your life under the false impression that you won’t ever crash your bike, or you can learn how to crash your bike safely for when it inevitably happens. As opposed to what you may think, slamming the brakes is never the way to go. If you’ve already lost traction due to a slippery road, it’s better to release your brakes and let your bike gain some traction. That’s when you’ll be able to direct your bike to a safe crashing spot like a patch of grass or anything softer than tarmac. Once you’ve gained some traction, try to brake again slowly. Your goal should be to slow yourself down to minimize the impact, and not to stop completely. If you attempt a sudden complete stop, you’ll lose traction and control over your bike.
As a bike owner, you must keep those tips in mind at all times, not just for your safety, but for the safety of those around you. If you’re new to biking, you’ll want to practice in calm neighborhoods before you hit the busy streets. Finally, remember to take every close call as a learning opportunity. You’re bound to make some mistakes, as all cyclists and motorists do. When it happens, don’t give yourself too much grief, but don’t let yourself off the hook easily either. When you regain your composure, take some time to analyze the incident, go over what happened, and see what you could have done to avoid it altogether.