SALLY WRITES: As a cyclist, you’ll be fully aware of your vulnerability on busy roads. According to the National Highways Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 726 cyclists were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2014. These deaths mostly occurred between 6pm and 9pm (20%) and in urban areas (71%). With these distressing statistics in mind, it’s imperative that cyclists know the rules of the road. No matter how experienced a rider you are, it’s always good to have a refresher!
Know the law
Road laws for bicyclists vary from state to state. Make sure you’re familiar with those that are applicable to you. In most areas, a bicycle is considered a vehicle, and riders must follow the same traffic laws as drivers. In all circumstances, cyclists must ride on the right side of the road, along with the rest of the traffic. This maximizes visibility to other road users and gives them time and space to respond appropriately to your actions.
Keep in position
It is sometimes illegal and undoubtedly more dangerous to ride on the sidewalk rather than the road. You are less likely to be seen by drivers and pose a hazard to pedestrians. The correct riding position for cyclists is two to three feet away from the curb. While this places you near to the moving traffic, it forces the traffic to keep its distance, gives you space to react to curb-side obstacles and also minimizes the risk of you hitting the curb. When the road is narrow or lined with parked cars, it’s often safer to get in the lane with moving traffic. This is also the case if you’re traveling at the same speed as the traffic or positioning yourself before an intersection. And don’t forget that if you are in a group, single file is always safest.
Use signals and signs
Don’t forget to use cycling hand signals which will prepare motorists for your maneuvers. Gaining eye contact with drivers is key if you’re about to cross an intersection. You will obtain drivers’ confidence and they will be able to predict your movements more easily.
While helmet laws vary depending on the state, it’s certainly sensible to wear a helmet at all times. A properly fitted bicycle helmet is proven to reduce the risk of head and brain injuries in the event of a crash.
Look to be seen
Wear high-visibility clothing and install reflective lights on your bicycle to ensure you’ll be conspicuous. High-visibility equipment is growing in popularity: try the latest neon bar tape or reflective tires.
And lastly, always maintain a responsible and considerate attitude when out on the road. We are all road users, no matter what the vehicle, and accidents can be minimized if we drive and ride with others in mind.
Related article: 25+ Biking Statistics That Won’t Surprise You At All (if you love cycling)