In honor of National Bike Month, Mike Barron presents Practical Bicycle Safety Tips to Ride Safe and Ride Smart. Mike Barron is the author at www.bestpepperspray.net and a full-time by-law safety enforcement officer with over 10 years of field experience in law enforcement and self defense.
Every day more and more people are discovering the benefits of bicycling – it’s healthy, relaxing, and fun. Riding a bike is great exercise and something everyone can enjoy. Millions of Americans are saving money, reducing pollution, and easing congestion every day by simply riding to work, to the store, or to visit friends and family. Whether you’re riding for the first time since childhood or you ride often, following a few simple bicycle safety tips can make your ride safe and enjoyable.
Protect Your Head with a Helmet
Your head is where you brain lives, and you need your brain for a lot of things. Your brain is responsible for simple tasks such as thinking and moving around. Did you know that your brain is made up of billions of nerve cells that are constantly sending and receiving messages from your eyes, muscles, and other parts of your body? Just falling off your bike is enough to get a serious brain injury, so play it safe and wear your helmet every time you ride. It can reduce the chances of a head injury by up to 85%!
The helmet should be snug on your head and sit flat. The strap should form a “V” shape under your ear and the chinstrap should also be snug. Two fingers should fit between your eyebrow and your helmet. It’s also a good idea to ensure your helmet meets safety standards that comply with the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
ABC Quick Check
An important step before riding a bike is performing the pre-trip ABC quick check. The ABC quick check includes the following:
Before you ride, check that your tires are properly inflated. They should be pumped up to the inflation rating printed on the tire. Many bicycle pumps come with a pressure gauge so you can make sure they’re properly inflated. Low-pressure tires can easily puncture.
Check that your brakes are working. Your braking lever shouldn’t come closer than a thumbs-width to the handlebar. Your wheel should spin freely when the brakes are off.
C = Cranks, Chain and Cassette
Grab both crank arms and wiggle them to ensure they aren’t loose. Spin the pedal and make sure the chain runs smoothly through the gears.
Quick = Quick Release Levers
Quick means making sure your wheels are on tight if you have quick release wheels. The wheels should be snug in the drop out and the quick release lever should be fastened tight.
Wear Reflective Gear
It’s more difficult to ride at night, but if you have to, make sure you can be seen. No matter what time of day you ride, always wear bright clothing but at night you really need to wear reflective or retro reflective gear. If you don’t have any reflective gear like a safety vest, buy reflective tape and put it on your shoes, jacket, and helmet. Reflective gear helps reflect light back to the driver of the car. Additionally, ensure you have a working headlight and taillight - it’s the best way to get noticed at night and it’s the law. Remember, the sooner a driver can see and recognize you, the sooner they can react.
Learn to Ride Safely
Did you know bikes are considered vehicles? That means you will have to follow the same rules as someone driving a car. Rules are created to keep us safe and to keep things flowing smoothly.
While cycling on the street, ride in a straight line on the right side of the road. Riding against traffic is dangerous because it puts you in a position where the driver of a car doesn’t expect you. And if you’re riding with a friend or two, always ride in single file. Another important thing to remember is to always obey traffic lights, signs, and pay attention to lane marks. Since bikes don’t have turn signals you’ll have to use hand signals.
Here are some additional bike safety tips to make your next ride a safe one:
- Communicate with motorists by making eye contact or waving. This way both you and the motorist can see each other
- Don’t swerve in and out of traffic and always ride far enough way to avoid the unexpected
- Always perform a shoulder check before turning or changing lanes
- Be courteous to pedestrians
- Keep your eyes open to things on the road like litter, potholes, gravel, railroad tracks, and storm grates because they are not bike friendly and could cause a crash
For Added Safety Consider Carrying Pepper Spray
There’s a lot more to bike safety than just preventing injuries. While cycling, protecting yourself and your bike should be a top priority. In today’s changing world you’re more susceptible to people who wish to do you harm. To prevent an unfortunate incident from happening, you can step up your game with SABRE’s Cyclist Pepper Spray with Adjustable Bike Strap. This unique pepper spray includes tear-away Velcro strap that attaches onto your bike’s frame for easy access. The Cyclist features 45 quick bursts and fires at an effective distance of up to 10 feet. The powerful stream delivery system ensures the pepper spray does not blow back towards you due to the wind. Accompanied by a four-year shelf life and UV marking dye for suspect identification, The Cyclist is a practical way to protect yourself and your bike.
For more information on bicycle safety tips and National Bike Month we suggest you check out the League of American Bicyclists and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.