Biking is fun and it is good exercise. It is also a safety challenge. Meet the challenge by following these four suggestions.
- Dress properly for bike riding.
Always wear a bike helmet. This is the most important measure for keeping yourself safe when riding a bicycle. Most head injuries suffered by bike riders are preventable if they had used the proper gear.
- You should always use a helmet that is safe and reliable. Here’s what to look for when purchasing a bike helmet:
- A label showing that the American Standards Institute or the Snell Memorial Foundation has certified the helmet as safe.
- Outer shell is colored bright yellow, white, orange, or red (to maximize your visibility to drivers).
- Outer layer is constructed of hard plastic or polycarbonate, with a waterproof finish.
- Lining is stiff polystyrene.
- Strap and fastener are securely attached to the helmet.
- If your helmet becomes damaged, replace it.
- Think about the possibility of road rash if you crash. Wear closed-toe sturdy shoes. You might want to consider a long sleeve shirt and long pants. Consider wearing lightweight gloves to protect your hands in the event of an accident.
- When seated properly on the bike, you should be able to put one foot on the ground without leaning the bike to one side or the other. Adjust the seat height if necessary.
- Your bike should have red reflectors on the sides, rear, and pedals that are visible for 500 feet. It should also have a headlight.
- Examine the bike tires before each trip. Inflate the tires to the recommended pressure. Look for worn spots and punctures. Fix or replace tires or tubes before setting out.
- Check your brakes. If they are in proper working order, you will be able to stop within 15 feet when riding at 10 miles per hour.
- Rearview mirrors are optional, but many bicyclists find them helpful.
You must obey all traffic laws as if you were driving a car. If you are not familiar with the traffic laws in your state, consult the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a printed copy. Here are some traffic laws that generally apply:
- Ride with the traffic, not against it.
- Stay to the right of the lane if there is not a designated bike lane.
- Obey all traffic signs and signals.
- Keep a safe following distance between you and the vehicle (or bicycle) ahead of you.
- Look behind you and use hand signals before turning or changing lanes.
- Don’t ride your bike through intersections without traffic signals. Walk it, especially if there is heavy traffic.
- Choose your route so you are riding on the safest roads possible to get to your destination.
- Ride on well-maintained roads with smooth pavement, but look out for potholes, rough surface patches and debris in the road.
- Drive defensively. Keep your eye on motorists, pedestrians, other bikers, parked cars. Look out for children or animals entering your path.
- Always pay attention to your surroundings. If you are listening to a radio or tape player, your full attention is not on the drive.
- Never bike while intoxicated, either from alcohol or drugs. It is just as dangerous as driving while under the influence, and just as illegal.
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