5 Ways to Stay Safe While Cycling

Cycling is a popular mode of transportation and recreational activity for many Americans. More and more cyclists are heading out onto the road alongside cars and other vehicles. And for good reason, as it’s one of the best ways to get exercise, see the sights, and reduce our carbon footprint. As the number of Americans who take up bicycling increases, so does the risk of an accident.

For nearly a decade, the number of bicycle accident deaths declined. However, recent studies in Arizona show that while crashes and injuries are down, fatalities are historically high.

As you would expect, in an accident involving a car and a bicycle, the cyclist is much more likely to be seriously injured. As a cyclist, you’ll need to be all the more vigilant and cautious to avoid an accident, whether there’s a vehicle involved or not. Here are five cycling safety tips to avoid danger when sharing the road.

1. Choose the right bike and inspect it regularly.
Riding a bike that’s too small or too big will make it much harder to control your bike and cycle safely. To test, straddle the bike, standing flat-footed over the top tube. There should be around 3cm to 5cm between the top tube and your groin. Better still, ask a knowledgeable bicycle mechanic to help you find just the right size.

Always inspect your bike before taking it out for a spin. The checklist should include inflating the tires to the proper pressure, lubricating the chain, tightening loose nuts or bolts, and verifying the brakes are working.

2. Plan for cycling safety.
The Arizona Department of Transportation reports that 91 percent of bicycle crashes occurred in urban areas, and three out of four occurred during daylight hours. If you must ride at night or in low visibility, make sure you have reflectors and lights. (A white front light and red rear light is best.)

Plot your route out, too. Choose roads with less traffic, or at least avoid peak traffic times. Steer clear of narrow streets or speed limits that exceed 35 mph.

If possible, skip the road entirely and take a bike path or other route without any cars. Arizona boasts hundreds of miles of car-free trails.

3. Wear the proper gear.
Simply wearing a helmet can prevent many unintentional bike deaths. Whenever you go cycling, you should always wear:

  • A helmet that fits (this single piece of apparel can reduce your risk of serious injury by as much as 85 percent)
  • Neon, fluorescent, reflective clothing to increase your visibility to others on the road (there’s a reason veteran bikers wear those brightly colored jerseys)
  • Padding
  • Eye protection
  • Gloves
  • Appropriate shoes

Safe cycling tip: tuck your laces into your shoes so they don’t get caught in your bike chain.

4. Limit your distractions.
Once your bike is good to go, and you’re all suited up, get focused. No matter where you’re riding, be aware of your surroundings, and never let yourself become distracted or complacent. Skip the headphones, too. Music and podcasts are great, but you need to hear and see what’s happening around you when you’re on your bike.

5. Obey the law and make safe choices.
By law, bicycles on the roadway must follow the same rules as motorists. That means:

  • Always ride on the right side of the road, in the same direction as the traffic
  • Obey road markings, street signs, traffic lights, and speed limits
  • Use hand signals to warn cars and other cyclists of your stops, turns, and lane changes
  • Keep both hands on the handlebars except when signaling
  • Before entering traffic, always stop and look left, right, and left again, then once over your shoulder

Contact Bache & Lynch if You Are Injured on a Bicycle
There are many hazards for bicyclists on Arizona streets and roads, including careless drivers, road hazards, and even other bicyclists.Still, with the proper precautions, you should be able to minimize the danger. If you were involved in a single bike/phantom crash or would like to discuss your bicycle injury case in a free consultation with an experienced Tucson personal injury lawyer who understands cycling, please get in touch with us today.