Each year, over 500,000 Americans receive emergency treatment and over 700 people die due to bicycle-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Therefore, it’s important to ride responsibly in order to protect yourself and others.
Every state has its own set of traffic laws and bicycling rules. So familiarize yourself with them before you head out on the road. However, here are some basic cycling tips that are common in most, if not all, states:
- Make sure your bicycle is sized and properly adjusted to fit you.
- Ensure your bike is in good working condition (especially your brakes) by inspecting it regularly.
- Always wear a helmet that’s properly fitted and fastened for your protection.
- Wear brightly colored clothing, such as yellow and lime green, during the daytime. For nighttime riding, wear reflective materials.
- Use lights and reflectors at night and during bad weather. For example, a white front lamp, a rear red reflector, and white or yellow reflectors on each pedal.
- Obey all traffic signs, signals and pavement markings. Stop at all stop signs and red lights.
- Use marked bike lanes or paths when available. Otherwise ride in the street and not on the sidewalks.
- Ride in the same direction as traffic, staying as far to the right as practical – except when overtaking another cyclist or vehicle, making a left turn, or avoiding a hazard.
- Ride responsibly. Don’t weave in and out of traffic or parked cars.
- Always be alert to your surroundings. Watch for road hazards, pedestrians, and other cyclists. Always be careful around motor vehicles, especially at stop signs; when they’ve passed you and may be turning right; or when they may be turning left in front of you. Stay prepared to take evasive action by always having at least one hand on your handlebars.
- Ride away from parked cars by at least 3 feet so you can avoid being hit by a door that is opened unexpectedly.
- Use hand signals before you turn or change lanes. And make sure drivers see you before you turn or change lanes.
- Never pass vehicles on the right, particularly at intersections. You never know when the driver might make a right turn in front of you.
- Ride single file when riding with others. However, check with your state’s laws regarding times when it’s safe to ride two abreast.
- Don’t wear earphones or use cell phones when riding. It’s best to pay attention to what’s happening around you when riding.
- Carry children in a properly affixed child carrier or a bicycle trailer. Most states don’t recommend cycling with a child under age one in an affixed child carrier. It’s also recommended that your child wear a helmet.
By following these tips and those outlined by your state, you’ll be able to stay safe while cycling and enjoy the great outdoors.
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