Be Prepared, Be Alert, Be Predictable
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 840 bicyclists were killed on U.S. roads in 2016. Of course, when a bicyclist and an automobile crash into each other, the former almost always gets the worst of it.
If you are bicycling on the road, what tips should you follow to prevent bicycle accidents and injuries?
Get good gear.
Before you start pedaling, make sure that your bike is the right size for you and that it works properly. Wear equipment that makes you more visible to others–bright clothing for daytime, reflective gear at night–and install a white front light, a red rear light, and reflectors to make sure that you can be seen when general visibility is poor. Any items you are carrying should be stowed in a backpack or strapped to the back of the bike.
Wear a helmet.
Your most important piece of gear is a bicycle helmet. Before taking to the road, make sure that you are wearing one and that it fits properly. Doing so can help you avoid injury and may even save your life. The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute offers advice about helmet sizes and how to adjust rings, pads, and straps to ensure that the helmet is a good fit.
Follow the rules.
Always follow the flow of traffic and obey all street signs, signals, and road markings. Assume that others around you can’t see you. Stay alert so that you can avoid potholes, grates, train tracks, road debris, and other hazards that may cause you to lose control of your bicycle.
Be focused and alert on the road. Be aware of the traffic around you and ready to anticipate what other drivers might do. The more quickly you become aware of a problem, the more quickly you can act to avoid an accident.
Chart your course.
Know where you’re going and, if possible, choose routes with lighter, slower traffic. It may be safest to stay on a bike lane or bike path when this option is available.
Do not text, listen to music, or do anything else that might cause you to take your eyes, ears, or mind off the road and the traffic around you.
Help motorists be confident about your intentions. If you are where drivers expect you to be, travel in the same direction as traffic, and signal when turning or changing lanes, you reduce the risk of a collision.
Improve your riding skills.
You’ll become a better bicyclist with practice and experience. Before venturing into heavy traffic, ride in a safe environment like a park, path, or empty parking lot. Or enroll in Colorado’s Bike School to learn safety tips and the rules of the road, how to find the best routes, how to keep your bike in good repair, and other ways to more safely navigate streets and trails.
When you’re a motorist, share the road.
Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as people driving a car. As a motorist, you should:
- Yield to bicyclists and never underestimate their speed.
- Check your surroundings for other cars as well as bicycles when turning, parking, or backing up.
- Give bicyclists room. Don’t follow too closely. Pass them as you would pass any other vehicle, moving over into the adjacent lane only when it’s safe.