Statistically on average you’ll crash your bike for every 4,500 miles ridden. In 2010 in the U.S. alone, 515,000 cyclists visited an emergency room due to cycle-related injuries. The point … crashes happen while riding regardless of how careful you are, and they most likely will happen to you at some point in time.
But there are some things you can do to lessen your chances of making that trip to the emergency room:
- Do a pre-ride bike check – Make sure your bike is functioning properly before riding it by checking tire pressure, chain tension, brakes, lights and for loose or missing hardware, such as bolts, screws or nuts.
- Know the rules of the road – Know all the traffic laws and safety hand signals as they can vary from city to city and state to state. Make a left turn by extending your left arm out straight to your side; to turn right, bend your left elbow and hold your arm up in an “L” shape; to stop, hold your left arm in an upside-down “L” shape.
- Ride on less traveled streets – With less traffic to share the road with, you reduce your chance of an accident with a resulting injury.
- Ride near the curb – Good advice, but remember to stay at least a car door’s width away from parked cars, in case someone opens their car door right in front of you.
- Ride defensively with traffic – Obey the two-second rule. When the car in front of you passes a fixed object, begin counting. If you get to that object before you count to two, you’re following too closely. Always keep both hands resting on the brakes so you can stop quick if need be and keep an eye out for potholes, rocks, and other obstacles in addition to traffic.
- Don’t wear loose clothing – If not wearing cycling clothes, clip your pants to avoid getting them caught in the bike’s moving parts, such as gears, brakes and chain.
- Wear a helmet – Wearing a helmet is the best protection you can have against suffering a head or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Be sure to buy one with the foam liner molded into the hard shell verses one that is glued in the shell. Also look for an adjustable chinstrap and head retention system.
- Increase your visibility – In most cases, you’ll do this if you wear a helmet as many of them today come in bright colors. However you can take that one-step further by wearing fluorescent clothing during the day, if nothing more than a bright orange mesh vest, or reflective clothing during low-light conditions. Also make sure you have a white light on the front and a blinking red light on the rear of your bike.
Sharing the roadway with other traffic is inherently dangerous, but you can lessen your chance of injury by following the above 8 tips when riding. Be safe, ride smart!