Fitness Articles

Bicycle Safety Tips

Over 45 Tips to Keep You Safe on the Road

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Although you might feel uncomfortable doing so at first, always ride in the direction of traffic. Riding against traffic flow puts you where motorists don’t expect (or see) you. Use the two-second rule to help you keep a safe distance behind other vehicles—when the vehicle in front of you passes a fixed object (such as a tree or a house) begin counting. If you pass that object before you count out two seconds, then you are following too closely.

It’s always a good idea to ride defensively and to assume that drivers don’t see you. Expect the unexpected and keep both hands ready to brake. Be aware of the flow of traffic around you and pay particular attention to driveways and intersections, which is where many accidents occur. Keep an eye out for obstacles in your path, such as potholes, rocks and railroad tracks. If you have to go around an obstacle, take your time and make the move during a break in the traffic.

Be especially careful if you’re out in wet weather as riding on wet roads can make you slip and can impair your brake function. Visibility is also an issue when it’s raining, so always wear fluorescent or reflective gear to ensure that motorists can see you.

If you have to ride at night, equip your bicycle with a white headlight and a red taillight (both of which are required by law in some areas), as well as with front and rear reflectors. Wear reflective clothing or materials, especially on your ankles, wrists, back, and helmet. A reflective vest or reflective tape sewn on clothing makes you far more visible at night.

Dress to Be Seen—and Safe
Not every cyclist is making a fashion statement by wearing bright-colored jerseys and gloves. All of this cycling gear serves a purpose that even recreational riders can benefit from.

Long pants and long-sleeved shirts cut down on scraped elbows and knees. Clothes should fit snugly—use ankle clips or rubber bands to keep pant legs from catching in the gears, chain or on the bike (or wear specially-designed bike shorts). Wearing gloves will reduce hand fatigue caused by gripping the handlebars during long rides, but they also offer some protection in case of a fall. Shatter-resistant protective eyewear is also a good idea, not only to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, but also to cut down on wind or other debris that could hit you in the eye.
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About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

Member Comments

  • "Drive near the curb in the same direction as traffic"

    Driving near the curb can be dangerous. Maryland has a far to the right rule. But! If the lane is not wide enough to accommodate both a bike and a car with three feet in between, the cyclist may ride in the center of the lane. The motorist must slow to follow and pass when safe. Briefly crossing the double line is permitted. This is similar to what a motorist would do when overtaking a slow tractor, a bus, or a buggy. If you feel safest far to the right, leave at least a foot to the left of the curb pan ... that's about two feet from the curb. There is a lot of debris and trash the closer you get to the edge, not to mention storm grates and broken pavement. And make yourself as visible as possible. Invest in a bright flashing light.

    And for heaven's sake WEAR YOUR HELMET. - 10/24/2014 12:18:23 AM
  • I don't ride bikes, but I do ride a stationary bike and I think those who do should obey all the rules of the road like vehicle drivers. - 9/17/2014 4:21:33 PM
  • I would never consider biking anywhere because as a driver I consider them a hazard on the road as they don't always observe the rules. I know everybody's not that way, but I find I have to go out of my lane to go around them safely usually and heard a story about a woman I know whose daughter plowed into a group of bicyclists at 7:30 in the morning, injuring one severely. She had been partying the night before. Probably still hung over. Scary stuff. - 6/30/2014 9:02:41 AM
    Did the article mention that bikes, like all vehicles, must stop for stop signs and red lights? Absolutely essential. And it's a really bad idea to have in ear buds while pedalling, or texting. - 10/30/2013 11:50:38 AM
  • My husband wants to ride in our neighborhood but I am leery about doing so. For one thing, there is no shoulder, it's curvy and hilly, and people drive like maniacs. And secondly, he flat out refuses to wear a helmet. Scares me too much. - 5/28/2013 9:30:02 AM
  • great tips! Everyone ride safe!!! - 5/6/2013 6:50:35 PM
  • KLUTZY68
    THEGORGESBLONDE's tips are very important. As someone who drove more than 40 hours a week for 25 years, let me add that movement is what catches a driver's eye. Reflectors on the tire spokes that are in different position so they don't move in tandem are very good; so is something that can be seen from the back and moves, such as reflective tape on your calves and heels. Reflective tape is much better than reflectors, and flashing rear lights are better than steady. Dusk and dawn are the hardest times for drivers to see, so be sure to use lights. Always wear dayglo colors, even in daytime; pink has been tested as the most visible. And if you think helmets are a pain, search for a video of a motorcycle hitting some cyclists. SP won't let me paste the link. - 5/6/2013 12:41:54 PM
  • JOJOWOODY- try Ikea. We have bright yellow vests for the whole family courtesy of Ikea. - 5/6/2013 12:28:07 PM
  • The article is right on time. Just brought my bike home yesterday. - 6/6/2012 3:19:55 PM
    CPSC is actually another one of the safety certifications that supersedes ANSI. Good article. - 6/5/2012 10:07:41 AM
    :-) - 5/19/2012 10:00:08 AM
  • I have just started riding a bike again and I found this article very helpful. Thanks - 5/6/2011 5:31:46 PM
    thatiswonderful - 12/13/2009 10:20:39 AM
    I rarely ride a bike on surface streets, since it's very dangerous, and I know too many people who have been seriously hurt. As a driver, please let me add that riding in the fog is particularly dangerous, since visibility becomes so restricted and there may not be time to react. Additionally, when cresting a hill, please be sure to get to the right as soon as possible -- the car coming up the hill directly behind you will not see you. - 10/26/2009 4:51:11 PM
  • My daughter fell on her face and her cheek was terribly scratched. I had just adjusted her helmet minutes before to prevent a serious injury. She was headed downhill! - 4/23/2009 12:12:07 PM

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