Cycling safety

I know that safety issues can sometimes be dry reading. Still it is an important issue of road bicycling, or any type of activity. Obviously good riding policies can help to reduce your exposure to injury or possibly death. I don’t want to be negative here, but severe injury or death is a real possibility even if we don’t want to think about it. First and foremost you must take at least a minimum number of actions to reduce your exposure to risk.

These are the minimum points to consider regarding bicycle safety:

Helmets

These are an absolute must. In many areas bicycling helmets are mandatory for anyone under 16 years of age.

There are many different manufacturers and styles of helmets with a myriad of color and designs. Weight, which was a concern many years ago is no longer a factor because the vast majority of helmets weigh well under a pound. There are a few that are as light as 6-8 ounces. This lightweight coupled with great ventilation allows no room for arguments about helmets being heavy or hot. There is no longer any excuse.

Accidents can happen when you bicycle, hopefully this will be a rare event, but it will happen. As you fall, you cannot stop the weight of your head from moving (by gravity and momentum) towards the ground. You will hit your head, no matter how hard you try and a helmet can make all the difference between embarrassment and injury. I know first hand because my helmet has the scar and not my scalp. Yet many years ago before bicycle helmets were heard of, I was knocked unconscious twice from falling as a result of bicycle accidents. Luckily there was no severe or permanent damage, at least that I’m aware of.

It just isn’t worth the risk to yourself and to your family.

Ride with traffic

Ride on the road just as you drive a car. Don't go against traffic. Many states consider bicycles as vehicles and have laws in place indicating that bicycles must ride with traffic. This is also safer than riding against traffic.

Visibility

Always wear bright or at least light colour clothing. Preferably a bright yellow or orange. You want everyone to see you; every car, truck and motorcyclist, so make sure you stand out.

Maintain your line

Ride near the right side of the right lane and just to the left of the white line. Don’t swerve or move too far right where you may slip off the edge. Keep a consistent path or line while riding. Riding this way will indicate to drivers you know what you’re doing and they don’t need to be concerned about lack of control on your part.

Signals

Use the old tried and true hand signals to let motorists know what you are doing. Be confident with your signalling.

Obey traffic laws

Stop at stop signs, signal your intent and act like a vehicle. Following the rules of the road lessens your exposure to accidents and injury.

Be observant

Not all motorists respect the right of bicycles on the road. Be prepared for anything when riding in traffic. Watch for the impatient motorist that flies by and suddenly turns right immediately in front of you. Just being cautious and observant will dramatically reduce your risk. Very often when cycling with a group, the leader will call out that the junction is clear. use common sense and still ride as if you were making your own decisions!