Riding a bike is a fun and environmentally friendly way to get around and exercise, but it can also be dangerous. By following a few basic safety measures, you can make cycling safer, more enjoyable, and much less stressful for yourself. In addition to the basic safety tips for cyclists listed below, you can also find numerous safety tips for cyclists at cycling organizations and some municipalities, especially those which want to encourage the use of bicycles for commuting.
Safety tips for cyclists start before you ride. Always wear a helmet which has been properly fitted and secured, no matter how short your trip is. You should also wear a brightly colored vest or jacket, and reflectors, if possible. Although it might feel dorky, these measures will help make you highly visible to drivers and other cyclists. You should also make sure that your tires are properly inflated, and keep your gears well oiled to avoid a malfunction at an inopportune moment.
In most regions, bicycles are treated as cars, so you should behave like a car while in traffic, and be conscious about sharing the road. Ride predictably, and always signal your intentions to turn or stop well in advance. In addition to using hand signals, you may also want to ring your bell, honk your horn, or just shout, especially around pedestrians. Use simple phrases like “turning right,” “passing on your left,” or just “hey!” to alert people to your presence. In addition, you should watch out for cross traffic, as it is sometimes hard for motorists to see cyclists; look out for cars pulling out of driveways and parking spaces especially. You should also avoid riding in the blind spot of a car, and make eye contact with motorists to ensure that they see you, especially at intersections.
Many safety tips for cyclists involve using your common sense. For example, during heavy traffic, you may want to pick more lightly traveled back roads. In addition to being safer and more enjoyable to travel on, these routes can also be faster. It is also a good idea to pretend that you are totally invisible while on a bike; always look carefully when you change positions in the road, for example, to make sure that the road is clear. By thinking that drivers can't see you, you will tend to be more safety-conscious.
When riding at night, use a headlight and rear light to make yourself visible and to increase your own range of vision. Some cities which offer safety tips for cyclists in their publications also provide free bike lights and sometimes locks as well to encourage the use of bicycles, so it's worth asking about these services at City Hall. If you're carrying a load, make sure it is well balanced and secured, whether it's a backpack or bicycle pannier. You should also check yourself and your bike over for trailing cords, straps, and so forth before you start a ride, as these can become trapped in the pedals or gears, posing a safety risk.