You’ve surely heard it before: cycling is one of the best forms of exercise you can get. With many of us finding our usual healthy exercise routines disrupted in 2020, increasing numbers of cyclists are taking to the roads, building muscle, burning fat, and improving their overall physical fitness levels. It’s also a great family activity – take the kids along and get the whole family moving!
So far, so good – but personal injury lawyers at wvattorneys.com report that with the increased number of cyclists on the roads, there’s been an uptick in cycling accidents too. With this piece of current news in mind, cycling road safety is a topic you shouldn’t ignore – unless you want to submit to the boredom of riding a stationary bicycle instead.
1. Go for Visibility
Low light conditions are especially dangerous for cyclists. Figures show that 45 percent of cycling-related fatalities occur between 6 and 9 in the evening – at dusk and after dark. Head and tail lamps on your bike and a reflective vest can help you to be more visible on the roads if this is the only time you have for your ride.
Even during daylight hours, it’s a good idea to choose bright or light coloured clothing for increased visibility.
2. Be Alert
Although this point may seem like a no-brainer, it’s disturbing to note that a substantial number of cycle accidents involve alcohol use on the part of the cyclist. Although law-enforcement may be more focused on motorists than cyclists in this context, it’s still not a bright idea to be riding under the influence of alcohol.
Headphones are another culprit. With music blaring, peddling away for all you’re worth may seem far more pleasant, but it also acts as a distraction and may prevent you from hearing warning signals that may give you time to react and avoid an accident.
Needless to say, messing with your mobile phone while riding is a no-no. If you need to use your mobile, pull over and take a break!
3. Exercise Extra Care at Intersections and Watch Out for Parked Cars
It should come as no surprise that around 30 percent of cycling accidents occur at intersections. When you’re riding along a regular road, there’s time for motorists to spot you and avoid any collision. At intersections, drivers could be racing to make a traffic light.
There’s also the matter of cyclists “taking chances” when they think the road is clear, ignoring traffic lights and doing the cyclists’ equivalent of jaywalking. At particularly busy intersections, consider getting off your bike and using pedestrian crossing facilities.
Parked cars aren’t usually a hazard – but when they pull out of parking bays, it’s all-too-easy for them to overlook an approaching cyclist. Be alert and watch parked cars for signs of activity. When a car has just pulled into a parking bay, watch out for car doors! Riding into an opened door is as bad as riding into a brick wall.
4. Choose the Safest Route Rather Than the Shortest One
Busy roads, roads without bike lanes, and narrow roads are all risky options. When planning your route, see if you can avoid roads where your risk of being in an accident is greater. It may take a little longer to arrive at your destination – but that’s better than not getting there at all!
Remember the safe passing distance of 3 feet. If motorists can’t keep that distance because the road is too narrow, you’re looking at a risky road. Avoid it if you can.
5. Wear Your Helmet
Although not all jurisdictions require cyclists to wear helmets by law, choosing to ride without one could lead to unnecessarily serious injuries and even deaths. A study conducted in 2009 showed that wearing bike helmets can prevent up to 83 percent of brain injuries sustained during cycling accidents. There’s also the matter of facial injuries. Helmets offer some protection here too.
All in all, wearing a helmet makes a lot of sense – and protecting your brain is way more important than keeping your hairstyle, no matter how nice that may be.
Apart from your helmet, consider wearing gloves. When falling off a bike, it’s a natural reaction to try blocking impact with your hands. Into high-speed riding? There’s even cycling gear with built-in body armor and since increased speed means increased impact if you do crash, it could be worth investing in some extra protection.
Be Safe, Be Careful, And Enjoy Your Ride
While you definitely shouldn’t be paranoid, it’s well worth being careful. These safety tips may help you to avoid an unpleasant experience – but you should definitely still focus on the ride and enjoy it. With a little common-sense and a healthy dose of caution, you will be among the millions of people who love their daily bike ride, and who will have nothing to regret and much to gain from their cycling pastime.