Essential Skills for Staying Safe on Your Bike

bike-safety-tipsMillions of people ride bikes every day for fun, fitness and transportation. Sadly, this healthy way of getting around turns to tragedy in too many cases when cyclists are injured or killed in accidents.

If you ride a bike, you probably know that wearing a helmet is one of the most important steps you can take to stay safe. What are some other bike safety tips that can help keep you and your loved ones out of harm’s way?

Important Skills for Bike Safety

The California Bicycle Coalition describes several key skills you need to develop to ride safely. By mastering these essential skills, you can significantly reduce your risk for injury.

Stay Alert

Staying alert is critical for observing the signs that a collision might occur and taking actions to avoid the danger area. To respond to potential hazards, you’ll need to be able to turn your bike or stop quickly when a motorist makes an error or is distracted.

Clues that a collision is about to occur include a vehicle turning into your path as you go through an intersection or passing you on the left and turning to the right in front of you. In addition, a car door opening in your path can cause a serious accident.

Handling your bike properly is also critical for avoiding a collision. Make sure you can balance well and get on and off your bike easily.

Be Visible

It’s important to make yourself as visible as possible to drivers so they can avoid mistakes that can hurt or kill you. On roads with bike lanes, California state law requires that you ride in the bike lane in the same direction as traffic if you are traveling slower than other traffic. If you’re moving as fast as vehicles, you can leave the bike lane to avoid debris, parked vehicles and other hazards.

When bike lane is not available and you’re traveling more slowly than other traffic, you should ride in the right lane outside the reach of opening car doors. Move out into the lane if you’re traveling as fast as other traffic or you need to do so for better visibility. If you need to turn or stop, be sure to use hand signals.

Always follow the rules of the road, including obeying any signage, traffic signals and markings on roads. If you need to ride on a sidewalk, such as in a residential area, watch your speed and get ready to yield to vehicles at intersections and driveways.

Protect You and Your Bike

Keeping your bike in good mechanical shape and using the right bike safety equipment also play critical roles in maximizing your well-being when you ride.

The most vital piece of equipment you can use is a helmet that fits you properly. Your helmet should cover the back of your head and your forehead. Plan to replace your helmet every five years and after any fall; an impact can reduce the integrity of the helmet and put you at greater risk should you experience another accident.

Under state law, your bike must have at least one brake. In addition, a white light that can be seen at least 300 feet ahead of you and a red rear light visible from 500 feet are required if you ride at night. Your shoes, ankles or pedals also must have reflectors.

To keep your bike in good working order, remember to check essential functions before each ride. Inflate tires and test your brakes. In addition, make sure chains are properly seated, quick-release levers securing seatpost and wheels are sufficiently tight, and no items are loose on your bike.

Work with Experienced Injury Attorneys

Despite safety precautions, accidents happen. If you’re injured due to someone else’s negligence, distracted driving or road rage, it’s important to work with a lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact Appel Law Firm LLP for a free consultation.


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