What advice can you give every cyclist to avoid the common mistakes that can lead to an accident?
Biking on a beautiful, sunny day can be a wonderful way to get fresh air and exercise, but it also has dangers that you shouldn’t ignore. Cycling equipment malfunctions and accidents have caused a slew of horrific injuries, including broken bones, Traumatic Brain Injury, and even death. What can you do to make sure you have a fun, but safe, experience? Cycling aficionados weighed in on this very important issue and here’s what they had to say:
ABC Quick Bike Check
Riding an eBike or bike is fun, but you also have the responsibility of riding safely. Accidents do happen, but there are a number of things that I always do before going for a ride. First, I always do an “ABC quick bike check.” This entails ensuring the Air in the tires is properly inflated, inspecting the Brakes for wear, pad adjustment, and lever travel, and making sure the Crank, Chain, and Cassette are functioning properly.
If my bike has a quick release, I also make sure the hubs are tight in the frame with the front hub quick release pointing back toward the frame so that nothing catches on it. Finally, I conduct a quick check of components, looking for loose parts, and tightening, replacing, or fixing them before the ride.
I always wear a helmet, and bright reflective clothes, and have a rear and front light on (even in the daytime) to increase my visibility. I do look for safe routes with less traffic, and ride bike paths when available. As simple as this may seem, I always follow the rules of the road: Obey traffic signs, signals, lane markers, etc. I use hand signals all the time and travel with the flow of traffic. I also stay aware of my surroundings and I never wear earphones.
Double-check Your Brakes, Don’t Ride With Headphones
The advice that I will always dish out to anyone that will listen is to double-check your brakes before every outing – especially if you’re going to be commuting or riding on roads. It’s far too easy for brakes to loosen and be less controllable, and even a couple of seconds difference between pulling the brakes and stopping could be the difference between safety and an accident. Take a moment before you set off to check your brakes. It’s worth the time.
The other thing that I think is important is to ride without headphones – I know that this can be boring, but you need to be aware of everything that’s happening around you and concentrate on the road so that nothing takes you by surprise.
3 Handy Tips to Avoid Injury
Cycling is not just exercise. It’s a way to be outside and enjoy nature, taking in all the sights, sounds, and smells – ooh, the smells! – while covering more territory than walking. But cycling is not without its risks. Here are three cycling mistakes to avoid to minimize the risk of having an accident and injuring yourself:
Be sure your equipment is working
Before you head out for your ride, check all your equipment. Are your brakes and gear shifts working? Are your tires aired up? Do you have your helmet (don’t laugh, I accidentally left home without mine once), gloves, water bottle, and a way to call for help in an emergency? Making sure your bike is in good working order before you leave can help you avoid cycling accidents due to equipment failures such as lost chains, lost brakes on a downhill, etc.
Never assume cars see you or know the rules
As a cyclist, you have roughly the same right of way as cars do on the road. But that doesn’t mean drivers see you. And even if they do, you can’t always guarantee they know the rules. If a car is stopped at an intersection, even if you have the right of way, make eye contact with that driver and, if possible, get acknowledgement that they see you and are permitting you to proceed.
With distracted driving more prevalent than ever, don’t ever take for granted that a driver has their eyes on the road or is prioritizing your safety. And if you see a driver behaving erratically, stay out of the way until they can get past.
Follow the rules of the road, and then some
Cyclists have the same right of way (more or less) as cars, but that means we have the responsibility to follow the same rules, as well. There may be some instances when you’re tempted to run that red light or when it’s easier for you to ride between two lanes of traffic as you prepare for a turn. It’s safest to wait for the light and, sometimes, using a crosswalk when following the law strictly can be dangerous.
Following these three pieces of advice will help you avoid cycling accidents, and you’ll be as safe as possible on your bike. Happy riding!
Yield to Pedestrians, Don’t Bike Distracted
Cyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and be cautious when passing them on the road. This is important because many cyclists are injured every year in accidents involving pedestrians. It is also important for cyclists to be aware of their surroundings at all times and to never ride distracted. This means no texting, talking on the phone, or listening to music with headphones while riding.
Two of the Biggest Mistakes Cyclists Make
1. Pay attention to where you are going!
Cycling is relaxing. Many people listen to music, zone out, and chill while they are cycling. Unfortunately, this can lead to accidents. When cycling through a city the potential for sudden hazards should be obvious, but many simply forget to look. Animals (dogs, squirrels, cats, rats, etc.) can dart across your path and either cause a collision or surprise you into steering out of your path, potentially into traffic or a pedestrian.
Roads can be littered with unexpected potholes, pedestrians can accidentally step into cycle lanes or cross at the wrong place in a street. Never drive so fast that you are unable to react to an unexpected obstacle, and always look far down the street and scan your sides to prepare for the unexpected.
2. Accept that cars don’t see you and are not paying attention.
You have the right of way. You are in your lane. You have the green light. Great, for all of that. But don’t assume that it matters. Whether you are in the right or not, it will not matter to you after being run over by an SUV. Always remember you are difficult to see in comparison to a large car or truck, and especially driving around corners or roads with no sidewalks or bike lanes. Cars may simply not expect you and could be unprepared to avoid you. Always drive defensively, always approach cars with paranoia (or more specifically, listen for them approaching you from behind), and always leave space between you and where a car potentially could be.
Use Caution at Intersections, Don’t Rely Solely on Hand Signals
Don’t assume that drivers understand cycling hand signals
Many publications and cyclists will encourage riders to utilize hand signals as they maneuver through city roads and intersections alongside vehicles. The majority of drivers don’t fully understand what these hand signals indicate or mean, so if you are a cyclist on a busy road, don’t assume that cars near you know what those signals mean or which direction you’re going to navigate. Be aware of your surroundings even when using hand signals as you may still need to be on the defense.
Use extreme caution at intersections
Most road cycling accidents take place in busy intersections where vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists are all navigating in the same area. Cars and bikes are potentially changing lanes, changing directions, speeding up, or slowing down at intersections.
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