With opportunities to get great cardiovascular exercise, spend time in the outdoors, and enjoy quality time with friends and loved ones, there's a lot to love about bicycling. In fact, it has become so popular in America that you can pretty much spot all kinds of cyclists wherever you go — from parents pulling toddlers in bike carriages, to couples taking romantic rides in parks on tandem bicycles, to packs of enthusiasts riding on country roads.
But just like most outdoor recreational activities, cycling does come with risk and responsibility. Each year, hundreds of thousands of adults and children are sent to emergency rooms due to bicycle-related injuries. You can reduce your risk of getting injured by always making bicycle safety a priority. Here are some tips to get you on the road to safe cycling:
- Wear a properly fitted helmet. It's especially important that young children be outfitted with a proper-fitting helmet.
- Adhere to the rules of the road. Cyclists have the same obligations as automobile drivers and must always drive in the same direction as traffic and obey all signs and rules of the road.
- Watch the road. Roadways are filled with potholes and slippery substances, which is why it's important to always be focused on the road ahead.
- Use hand signals. If you're making a turn or need to stop, always use your hand signals to let drivers know your intentions. Similarly, if you are approaching pedestrians, be sure to tell them you are behind them by ringing a bell or announcing your approach.
- Don't assume drivers will stop. Approach intersections and crosswalks with caution. Never assume that drivers will stop because they have a stop sign or red light.
- Avoid distractions. Never talk on your cellphone or wear headphones to play music. Be 100% alert at all times.
- Stand out. There's a reason cycling clothing is bright; it makes it easier for cyclists to be seen. Avoid riding after dark or in poor weather when visibility is low.
- Maintain your bike. Before setting out on any journey, ensure your tires are properly inflated and that you have tools with you to repair your bike in the event that you have a flat tire or your chain falls off.
- Keep both hands on your handlebars. You'll have more control of your bike and will have a greater chance of avoiding unexpected obstacles.
- Be a defensive driver. Cycling is a lot like driving an automobile. Always drive defensively and prepare for the unexpected.
With these safety tips in mind, you'll be able steer your way out of danger and enjoy the ride.