Staying Safe on a Bike

ABC Quick Check

Before you hop on the bike, take a few seconds to perform an ABC Quick Check of your bike.

A – Check your air pressure and add air as needed. While you’re there, make sure your tires don’t have any damage on the treads or sidewalls.

B – Inspect your break pads. Make sure there is more than 1/4″ of pad left and that they aren’t rubbing on your tire or spokes.

C – Check your chain for signs of wear or stretching and that it isn’t slipping off your gears (or cassette—hey, another C).

Quick – If you have a quick release wheel, ensure that it is tightened properly and that the lever is facing backwards.

Check – Give your bike one last check over to make sure nothing is loose, broken or not functioning.

Signaling

Let drivers, bike riders, and walkers know your intentions by signaling your turns and stops. Need a refresher on your signals? Check out the chart below.

bike_safety_signalsEye Contact
A simple way to acknowledge and be acknowledged by others.

Pointing
Clearly indicating where you intend to ride can be a useful signal in ambiguous situations.

Scanning
Briefly looking over your shoulder prior to signaling is a good way to both assess the traffic situation and indicate your intentions to motorists behind you. Practice this skill in an empty parking lot to learn to do it without swerving.

Put Your Foot Down
When approaching an intersection with traffic from other directions, taking a foot off of your pedal while braking is often the clearest and easiest way to signal your intent to stop.

Sound Off
Using a bell, horn, or your voice when passing others or in other situations is also a good skill to develop.

Caution Behind
In certain situations, like narrowing streets or tight/blind turns, the “Stop/slow” signal can be effectively used to warn motorists of a change ahead. It can be used effectively along with . . .

Taking the Lane
If you can ride the speed of traffic or traffic can’t pass you safely, pulling into the center of the lane is generally the safest way to ride.

Where to Ride
Proper lane position helps you be seen and lets others know what to expect of your riding. See the graphic below for a quick explanation of proper lane placement.

Make sure to be predictable with your riding. Weaving or sudden turns can confuse drivers and put you in danger.

Helmets

Proper helmet fitting isn’t tricky, but is essential to cycling safety. Watch this helpful video on making sure a helmet fits on the wearer’s head.

Be Visible

State law requires, at a minimum, that anyone riding at night has one clear front light and one reflector on their bike. Flashing lights on the front of your bike, back of your bike and on your body help you stay even more visable.

You can also wear reflective clothing or arm/leg bands to stay safe and be seen.

Have a Backup Plan

bike_safety_backupplanA portable bike pump and basic repair kit can help you handle a flat tire or low tire air pressure. Make sure you know where nearby bike shops are located and learn how to put your bicycle on the bus in case you’re unable to ride it.

Other Tips For Easier Biking

Panniers (saddle bags)
Panniers are storagebags that attach to racks on the front or back of a bike and hang down the sides. They help riders carry heavier loads more easily.

Backpack or courier bag
For lighter loads or short trips, a backpack or side bag may meet your needs. You can purchase back or shoulder bags designed for cyclists or use a bag of your own.

Basket
Baskets can carry heavy loads, are easy to use, and are often cute! They can be attached to the rear or the handlebars, but some riders say that front-mounted baskets reduce control over steering and add air resistance.

Bike rack
Bike racks help you carry larger loads without adding much weight to your bike. Racks fit nicely over the rear wheel. They can be used to attach pannier bags or secure items like a briefcase or shopping bag using bungee cords.