Road safety for cyclists

As things are finally taking a turn toward normalcy, people are starting to venture out and enjoy life. And with summer here, many are choosing cycling as their primary source of transportation or fitness. As things get back to normal, more cars are also on the road. Because of this, both cyclists and drivers need to be cautious on the road.

Cyclist safety tips

No matter when you are cycling, prioritizing your safety and the safety of those around you is key. The best way to stay safe is to remain aware of your surroundings. Here are a few other tips to help you stay safer on your bicycle.

Biking in traffic

Keep your eyes on the cars around you at all times and give yourself space to maneuver if a vehicle should unexpectedly change lanes or brake. Most states require cyclists to ride with the flow of traffic, but be sure to research bicycling laws in your area.

Off-road biking

Off-road biking is a great fitness activity, but it can be more challenging than biking on paved roads and has its own set of risks. Ensure your bike is equipped to handle off-roading, and always wear appropriate safety gear.

Avoid sidewalks

While many states permit riding on sidewalks, pedestrians always have the right of way. Because it can be difficult to stop abruptly to avoid those out walking, avoid cycling on sidewalks when possible.

Road construction

If you ride in an area with roads, chances are you’ll eventually encounter road construction, which can be very hazardous to cyclists. Stay extra vigilant when you encounter construction, paying close attention to signage, signals from workers, and the road itself for stray objects.

Bicycle safety features

Cyclists face a unique set of risks on the road because they are completely exposed to the elements. Some things are beyond our control, but adding these gadgets can make riding a bit safer.

Lights – Lights can enhance your line of sight and signal to others on the road that you are approaching. Bike lights come in different colors and can be added to the front or back of your bike, your helmet, or even your wheels.

Helmet – Even if your state does not require it, wearing a helmet while cycling is a good idea. Helmets protect you from a head injury in the event of an accident.

Reflectors – A reflector is less intense than a light but still helps cars, cyclists and pedestrians see you at night. Many bikes come with reflectors pre-installed, and they can be located anywhere on the bike.

Bell – Whether there are cars, other bikers, or pedestrians, chiming your bike bell lets others know you are in the vicinity.

Bike road rules

As a cyclist, you are immersed in traffic with other vehicles and bikers. So, before you grab your bike and hit the road, you should make sure you are aware of the rules and be prepared to follow them.

State-by-state bicycle laws

While some states require all cyclists to wear a helmet, others are more lenient. Some states require you to stay in the bike lane, and others allow you to ride on the highway. Check to ensure you comply with your state and community bicycle laws.

Bicycle signals

Because bicycles are not equipped with signal lights, cyclists should use universal hand gestures to show others when they turn or stop. Appropriate signaling can prevent collisions because it gives the drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians near you awareness about what you are planning to do next.

Insurance and bike collisions

A collision between a car and a bike is treated in some ways like a typical car accident. If the driver’s insurance policy does not have adequate coverage, the biker’s auto policy might pay to fill in coverage gaps. If you bike frequently, make sure your insurance plan covers you in the event of an accident.

Tips for drivers

If you drive a car, there are times you must share the road with bicyclists. You should make sure you do your part to keep everyone safe and keep an eye out for bicycles to avoid potential accidents.

Respect the bike lane. As a driver, make sure you are not driving in the designated bike lane or too closely to it, except when crossing it as necessary to make a turn.

Maintain safe distance. If a bicycle is on the road while you are driving, maintaining a safe distance from them is crucial for everyone’s safety. Bicyclists need more time to increase or decrease their speed, so if a car follows too closely, it is easy for a collision to happen.

Pass on the left. The rule for passing other cars in the U.S. is to pass on the left. The same is valid for passing cyclists.

Look before opening doors. Before you are ready to exit your car, be sure there are no oncoming cyclists, as an open car door can obstruct their path and potentially cause injury.

No distractions. When you are behind the wheel of a car, minimize distractions such as cell phones. Lack of distractions lessens your chances of an accident and makes the roads safer for drivers and cyclists.

Safety tips for kids

Biking can be a fun way for kids to stay active, but always make sure they are supervised and road ready. These tips can help ensure your children stay safe while bicycling.

Bike size

Having the right size bike for your child is crucial. They should easily get on and off the bike and reach the pedals and the ground. Small children grow fast, so you should check their gear at least once a year to ensure they have not outgrown their equipment.

Accessories for kids

  • Lights and reflectors: They help kids see better at night and be noticed by others.
  • Bright clothing: It helps your child stand out in traffic to avoid accidents.
  • Correct footwear: Sneakers cover the whole foot, while flip flops leave their feet exposed and can be dangerous when pedaling.
  • Bell or horn: A bell or horn helps children alert others that they are riding in the area.
  • Training wheels: Training wheels help beginning bikers maintain balance.

Biking Rules

To make riding fun and safe for the whole family, establish rules for your child to follow while bicycling. Every parents’ rules may look a bit different, but here are a few safety tips that anyone can implement into their own family bicycling rules:

Stay close by. Make sure your child stays close to you while riding a bike. Keeping them within reach helps you easily intervene if need be.

Don’t stay out too late. Traveling in the dark can be challenging for drivers and bikers alike. Once the sun starts to set, it is best to end kids’ bike rides to keep them safe.

Stay off busy roads. Because children are small, it is even more difficult for drivers to see them.

Follow traffic signals. Teach your kids to pay attention to traffic lights and street signs, so they know when they have the right of way.

 

Information provided by Kay Irvin, personal finance writer for Bankrate, and edited by Hannah Drewieck, TDS Communications Intern

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