The importance of bicycle safety will come into stark relief now that spring has arrived and more and more bikes are seen out on the road. But with this abundance of cyclists also comes a greater array of dangers. The Sheriff of Georgia’s Dougherty County is so concerned about the issue that he’s related some important safety tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and we’re relating them to you in the hope that they can prevent an injury or worse.
Many safety precautions can be taken before you even start your commute on the back of a bicycle. Helmets can greatly limit your exposure to danger and should be worn at all times. Bright clothing increases your visibility, which increases your safety. A bike festooned with reflectors and lights can also improve safety, especially at night. You need to use particular caution when it’s dark outside.
Make sure you’re comfortable riding. The seat tends to accommodate cyclists best when it’s brought to an area in which a rider is able to bend their knee ever so slightly when their legs are extended to the pedals. The handlebars should be adjusted until they’re level with the seat. Take a quick spin around the block to make sure you can properly navigate within your chosen seating position.
Once it comes time to actually ride, it’s imperative that you obey pertinent laws. Remember that you’re held to the same standards as motor vehicles. You need to stop at red lights and stop signs, ride on the proper side of the road (with traffic), and alert other drivers to your intentions. Weaving in and out of traffic is inadvisable, as one simple lane change by another vehicle can lead to a potential tragedy.
Just because a traffic light or stop sign isn’t there does not mean you can just plow through the intersection in a cavalier manner. In those instances, it’s imperative that you slow down and look both ways for oncoming traffic. In a battle between a bicycle and a motor vehicle, the automobile will win every time, and knowing that you were supposed to have the right of way holds little solace when you’re recuperating from a serious injury in a hospital.
You also need to minimize distractions. All drivers ought to put down their phone, headphones, or other means of distraction, but this is particularly important for cyclists. It’s easy to underestimate how much hearing plays a role in how you navigate. Even if you don’t realize it, your mind is attuned to subtle noises that could signal a traffic hazard. Also keep an eye on hazards you can see, like potholes, railroad tracks, and anything else that could cause you to be thrust from your bike.