According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 784 bicyclists were killed in 2005 while riding their bikes. In 2004, there were 725 deaths, and for the four years previous, annual bicycling deaths ranted from 629 to 732 people each year.
Statistics for bicycling injuries are not readily available, since most do not get reported.
Use the Proper Equipment
1. Be sure your bike fits you properly and is adjusted for your size.
2. Equip your bike with safety equipment: a white headlight (preferably one you can set to a flashing mode for use during the daytime to make yourself more visible), reflectors and/or reflective tape or markings, a flashing red rear light (essential for riding at night), a horn or a bell (to give audible signals to let drivers know where you are—or that you’re there at all), and mirrors on your handlebars.
3. Each time, before you ride, check to see that tires are properly inflated, that the brakes work, and that nothing is loose on your bike.
Dress For Cycling
4. Always wear a properly fitted bike helmet to protect you in case of a fall or crash. (Consider putting a mirror on your helmet, too.)
5. Wear bright, neon colors and/or reflective clothing—even during the day.
6. At night, wear a reflective jacket or vest or a safety triangle.
7. Know the rules of the road and any specific bicycling rules for your area
8. Plan to travel in slow or residential areas when possible to avoid fast-moving downtown traffic.
9. Avoid narrow roads and opt for wide roads where there is more room for bicycles and cars to maneuver if you can.
10. Always stay alert. Don’t ride with headphones or an ipod. And NEVER use your cell phone while biking!
11. Never be in a hurry. When you’re in a hurry, you can get careless or take unnecessary chances. It also makes it more likely that you could be darting in and out quickly and automobile drivers might not even see you.
12. Use your headlight—even during the day—so drivers have a better chance of seeing you.
13. Use your mirrors so you know what is going on around you at all times.
14. Ride on the street with other traffic, not on the sidewalk, traveling in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic, not against it.
15. Know—and use—hand signals. Be sure to give plenty of notice in advance of when you are going to make a turn. Then be sure to look over your shoulder to be sure your path is clear before making the actual turn.
16. Be consistent and predictable so motorists know what you are going to do. Drive in a straight line. Don’t swerve, weave in and out of traffic or parked cars, or make any erratic or sudden moves.
17. Obey traffic signs, signals, and road markings and yield to pedestrians – just like any other vehicle on the roadway.
18. Use your horn or bell if you will be crossing in front of another vehicle so you give an audible signal—it’s more likely to get the other motorists attention.
19. Make eye contact with motorists if possible, so you know that they see you.
20. Watch for hazards such as pot holes, puddles, loose gravel, spare car parts, drain grates, rocks, litter or garbage, parked cars opening their doors, pets running loose, and other vehicles.
21. Ride to the left of the parking lane to avoid hitting a car door that opens unexpectedly in front of you.
22. At a red light, stop behind another car. Do not pull up next to the first car at the light where you will be in the blind spot and risk getting hit if the car makes a right turn and the driver doesn’t know you’re there.
23. When you follow a vehicle that is moving slow, be patient. It may be getting ready to make a turn. Don’t try to rush past it or get up beside it in the driver’s blind spot.
24. Always look behind you (over your shoulder) before making a turn—for other vehicles, for other bicycles, and for pedestrians.
25. Always look behind you (over your shoulder) before you change your position in the lane of traffic, as a vehicle could be getting ready to come alongside you or pass you.
26. Never swerve in and out of traffic or in and out of the parking lane. Maintain steady placement in your lane.
27. Double check everything! Even if you have the right of way, a car or other vehicle is much larger than a bicycle and for your own safety, you have to be prepared to yield at all times.
28. Always drive, ride, and act as if other drivers can’t see you! Put your safety first.
About the Author
Everyone always says “I know what I need”, but there’s a cycling bikes out there for every purpose! When considering your new purchase, you should first consider the type of riding you would do and where most of it will be done.