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How to Stay Safe When Cycling

Bike Safety Tips From May, Rammell & Wells

A fun bike ride can be the perfect activity for a hot summer day, especially if you are able to avoid an accident. Fortunately, our bicycle safety tips can help you prevent most crashes and serious injuries. If you do everything right and a careless driver harms you, our lawyers at May, Rammell & Wells can also help you recover.

So, put on your helmet and reflective clothing and hop on your bicycle – just be extra cautious and follow the safety tips below!

Tip #1 – Dress for the Occasion

Whenever possible, you should avoid biking in dark-colored clothing. Instead, choose bright, reflective clothes that fit you well and will not get caught in your bike chain. Wear comfortable shoes that help you grip the pedals, as well – no sandals, flip flops, high-heeled shoes, or athletic cleats.

You should also wear a helmet every time you get on a bicycle. Make sure your helmet meets the rules set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (it should have a CSPC sticker) and fits you properly (use this guide by the NHTSA to find the perfect fit!)

Tip #2 – Check Your Equipment

Before you take off, make sure your bike fits you well and is in good working order. When you stand over your bicycle, there should be 1 to 3 inches between you and the top bar, and the seat and handlebars should be level and allow for a slight bend at the knee when you ride.

Check your bike to make sure:

  • Your tires are inflated properly
  • Your brakes are working well and not sticking
  • Your seat, handlebars, and wheels are secure
  • Your chain is running smoothly (if it is rusty and/or making noise, add oil)

Once you and your bike are ready to go, you’re almost ready to hit the road!

Tip #3 – Know Where You’re Going

The final step before departing on your bike ride is to plan your route. If you can, plan your ride around the light. It is much more dangerous to ride at night, so you should try to make it home before sundown. If you do need to ride at night, make sure your bike has reflectors and consider adding flashing lights on the front and back of your vehicle.

Riding away from traffic will also make your ride safer. Choose a bike path or roads with a bike lane whenever possible, and if you have to ride as a vehicle, opt for streets with less traffic and slower speed limits.

You can also ride on the sidewalk if sidewalk riding is legal in your area, but the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) recommends avoiding or minimizing sidewalk riding unless you are riding with a child under 10. This is because cars may not expect to see moving traffic in driveways, and sidewalks can end abruptly and force bicyclists into the path of unsuspecting drivers.

Tips for Safe Riding

Congratulations! Now you’re ready to ride. When you’re on the road, keep the following tips from the NHTSA, Consumer Reports, the National Safety Council, and KidsHealth.org in mind:

  • Before entering traffic, stop and look left, right, left again and over your shoulder
  • Ride to the right of the road in the same direction as traffic
  • Never ride against traffic
  • Use bike lanes whenever they are available
  • Obey all traffic laws (bikes are considered vehicles in most places)
  • Stay single file if riding with other cyclists
  • Ride predictably and in a straight line
  • Signal all stops and turns with hand signals
  • Look twice before turning and watch for left- or right-turning traffic
  • Always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars
  • Carry books, groceries, and other items in a backpack, basket, or cargo rack
  • Be extra cautious at intersections (about half of crashes occur here)
  • Make turns and crossings at intersections and in accordance with traffic signals
  • In busy intersections, walk your bike across using the crosswalk
  • Try to ride about 4 feet from parked cars and be aware of doors that could suddenly open
  • Be on the lookout for potholes, glass, rocks, children, animals, and other road hazards that could cause you to lose control of your bike
  • Stay alert at all times – do not use headphones or listen to music while you ride
  • Pass pedestrians and other bicyclists on the left and shout “on your left,” so they know you’re coming (you can also use a bell or horn)
  • Yield to pedestrians and other traffic when appropriate
  • Assume other drivers cannot see you and drive defensively

This list may seem overwhelming, but many of these tips will come to you naturally, especially if you know the rules of the road from driving. If you’re riding with children, teach them these rules and lead by example. Following all the advice on this page can prevent the majority of accidents.

Bonus Tip: Call a Lawyer if You Get Hurt

If you are following all the tips we have to offer and you still end up in a bicycle accident, chances are someone else’s negligence is to blame. When this is the case, our attorneys are here for you.

If you are injured in a bike crash, May, Rammell & Wells can help. Call us at (208) 623-8021 or contact us online to get started – and don’t forget to schedule your consultation.


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