By DCB Editorial, October 14, 2022
Recent statistics show that bicycle accidents with motor vehicles are decreasing in some areas, such as Oakland, but even so, it’s still dangerous to ride a bike near traffic. Of course this can’t always be avoided, so as a cyclist, it’s crucial that you take proactive steps to keep yourself safe when riding your bike. These safety tips should always be followed to ensure your safety on the road.
When you know where you’re riding ahead of time, you’re able to focus on your surroundings rather than on where you need to ride or turn. This way, you won’t make any unexpected moves that could put you in a dangerous situation. Familiarize yourself with the bike lanes along your route and identify any potential risks that might put you closer to traffic than you want to be.
For example, there might be a narrowing of the bike lane at a certain point. Knowing this ahead of time will help you prepare for that spot. Or there could be a place where the lane disappears altogether. Plan how you’re going to deal with this and where you’re going to ride until the lane appears again. Take a test ride when you’re not stressed about getting somewhere on time so you can stop and make your plan.
Make Glancing Over Your Left Shoulder a Habit
Cyclists are required by law to ride with the flow of traffic and you should be to the furthest right of the lane as possible for whatever action you’re taking. For instance, if you’re going straight, you should be riding to the right of the right lane. If you’re turning left, you should be to the right of the left turn lane. These are cycling basics, but some riders think they’re safer if they ride facing traffic. This is not only not true, but illegal as well.
When you’re riding in the correct place on the road, motor traffic will be to your left. For this reason, making a habit of glancing over your left shoulder can help you prepare for traffic that’s coming upon you. You’ll be able to see when a car has their right turn signal on so you know that once they pass you, they’re going to turn right at some point soon. This will allow you to slow down so you don’t hit the car as it turns.
Assume Motorists Don’t See You
Unfortunately, you are much smaller than cars so you’re easily overlooked. Assume that motorists don’t see you and over-exaggerate your movements to make yourself more visible. For example, you should be using hand signals to indicate turns and stops, but you should also use the rest of your body to indicate your actions. Look over your shoulder when you signal to make sure the drivers acknowledge your presence and even make eye contact with them if possible.
Wear light-colored clothing, clear glasses (so motorists can see your eyes), and reflective shoes. Put tail lights and headlights on your bike and even equip it with a horn of some kind to get drivers’ attention when necessary. Of course, always wear a helmet just in case.d
Cyclists shouldn’t have to take their lives in their hands when they ride their bikes on the road, but unfortunately, motorists are often oblivious to bike riders. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon all cyclists to take safety precautions to ensure they arrive at their destinations.