Anyone who’s lived in a major city knows that driving within city limits can be brutally slow and subject to interruptions. Bikes let commuters circumnavigate busy traffic and clogged streets, but it’s important to remember that they don’t protect their riders like cars do their passengers. Cyclists have to be extra careful to follow the rules of the road and to protect themselves and their equipment.
When it comes to vehicle safety, lives are at stake and you don’t want to take things likely. To that end, let’s look at some of the best ways you can stay safe and bike smart.
Always make sure that your helmet and any other pads or protective gear you wear are secured tightly and properly fitted. Loose equipment can be distracting, and in the event of an accident it can protect you less effectively. Here’s a simple list of equipment to own and maintain:
- ● A Bicycle: Get something comfortable to ride and reliable in performance. Oil and clean it regularly, and take it to a maintenance shop if you run into problems.
- ● Helmet: Invest in a high-quality helmet.
- ● Bike Light: Make sure your bike is equipped with a light for night cycling.
- ● Reflectors: If you’re going out at night, you’ll need these too.
- ● Shoes: Shoes in good condition and with un-worn treads provide superior grip on your pedals, increasing your odds of keeping control in high-pressure situations.
Car Awareness and Intentional Visibility
You’re going to need a working knowledge of cyclist hand signals, and you’re going to need to use them. Always announce when you’re about to stop or turn and do so well in advance as much as is possible. You don’t want to surprise the drivers sharing the road with you, as they’ll be less able to react to your choices if you do.
Keeping your light and reflectors in good shape is another critical part of car awareness. You’ll also want to consider a rear-view mirror to increase your field of vision. The more confident you are about your knowledge of what’s happening around you, the more competently you’ll be able to assess your options when you need to act.
Distractions can be deadly on the road. Many cyclists like to wear headphones to listen to music on their ride, but this practice can prevent you from attaining full awareness of your surroundings. Cities are busy, dangerous places and you need your wits about you to navigate your commute safely and successfully. Make sure you’re hydrated, that you’ve eaten a good meal, and that your senses are unobstructed before you set off into the hustle and bustle on your way to work.