Cycling is a popular pastime for many people, as well as being an increasingly popular method of personal transportation to work and around one’s local area. It can offer a lot of advantages too, serving as an effective form of physical exercise, helping a person reduce their reliance on public transport and minimize their carbon footprint, and being a great way to spend time with friends.
In short, cycling has a lot to offer, but it can also bring some drawbacks and risks. Indeed, many accidents involving cyclists occur on American roads every year, and even out on bike paths and trails, it’s easy for people to get hurt if they’re not paying attention, fail to keep their bike’s maintained, or make a simple mistake while riding.
Cycling enthusiasts, therefore, need to be aware of the possible risks and dangers they may face every time they saddle up and set off on their bikes. This guide will help you navigate those dangers and reduce your own risks of having an accident by providing some simple but effective safety tips every cyclist needs to know.
Always Wear a Helmet
The number one tip on this list is an obvious one: make sure you wear a helmet whenever you get on your bicycle. Even though this isn’t a legal obligation in every state and location, it’s thoroughly recommended by every leading expert in the field of cycling safety, and countless studies and reports show that helmets truly do save lives and minimize injuries.
A helmet can protect your skull and brain, and the head is one of the most commonly injured body parts in cycling accidents, as riders are often flung forward from their bikes onto the road or into an obstacle ahead of them when accidents happen, bumping their heads in the process. Make sure you wear a helmet to stay as safe as possible.
Invest in Extra Safety Equipment Too
A bicycle helmet isn’t the only piece of protective equipment you should consider whenever you set out on a bike ride. There are many other accessories and essential items to think about too. Gloves, for example, can help you in terms of gripping onto the handlebars more comfortably and reducing the risk of burns on your skin if you slip from the bike and hurt your hands.
Pads for key areas like the knees, elbows, and shoulders can also be effective, and visors may be recommended when cycling on sunny days, as it can be very difficult to stay focused and see clearly when the sun is right ahead of you. Speaking of the sun, don’t forget to use sunscreen too in the summer months to protect your skin.
Maintain Your Bike
Many cyclists are surprised to learn just how many bike accidents are caused or influenced by a technical or mechanical issue with the bike in question, but it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. After all, driving with low tire pressure, rusty chains, or bad brakes is a clear recipe for disaster.
To avoid any of these risks, try to make sure you maintain your bike correctly, carrying out all the key maintenance tasks on a regular basis like checking your tire pressure, adjusting your chains, making sure that the bike is kept clean and stored in a safe place, and so on. These little efforts can really add up and will help to extend your bike’s lifespan too.
Be Extra Careful in Cities
A lot of accidents involving bicycles occur in urban environments like towns and cities, and it’s easy to see why. Riding in a city can be quite daunting, as there are many other, larger vehicles all around you, from cars to trucks, and trying to get around them while remaining visible and keeping up with the rules of the road can be a real challenge.
You need to be extra careful in city environments. Pay close attention to road signs and look out for bike paths you can use. Watch the sidewalks for pedestrians too, as people can sometimes step out into the road unexpectedly, and make sure you use hand signals to let drivers know if you’re making a turn or changing direction.
Cycling can be a wonderful way to spend some of your free time or a super habit to get into when it comes to getting to work each day, but you have to know the risks and have the right approach in order to stay safe. Keep these tips in mind whenever you ride your bike.