How to Stay Safe While Commuting on a Bicycle

For many people, commuting via bicycle would be a nice sustainable activity. It promotes health, avoids traffic jams, and is generally more eco-friendly than most of the transportation alternatives. So why are not more people getting to work on their bikes?

The usual answer is, "I would do it, but it just is not safe. Too many crazy drivers." Aside from the obvious fact that if they were on their bikes, there would be fewer cars on the road, here are a few basic bicycling safety tips that bear repeating:

  • Always wear a helmet. All it takes is a pile of loose leaves or a bit of uneven pavement, and you could be on the ground. A small road rash might hurt, but you will survive. However, if you hit your head on the pavement, all bets are off. The helmet can save your life, and shows others that you are a responsible cyclist.
  • Always wear bright clothing so that you are easily seen. In fact, if you ride for any distance at all, invest in some good cycling gear, which is made for comfort as well as visibility. An interesting stat … cycling gloves are statistically the number one piece of equipment for reducing injuries – possibly because the people who wear cycling gloves are usually more knowledgeable and dedicated cyclists.
  • Keep your bike in good condition. Make sure you have good tires, your brakes are in good working order, and you have safety equipment such as reflectors, plus head and tail lights if you ride early or late in the day, or at night. Another overlooked piece of safety equipment is sunshade. Sunburn can take the enjoyment out of a good ride. And of course for the other days, carry a lightweight poncho to shield yourself from inclement weather, if there is a chance you might get caught by the rain.
  • Always ride to the right hand side of the road, and always ride in the same direction as the traffic. If you want to see what's coming from behind, get a small mirror.
  • Observe the traffic laws. Stop at stop signs, stop at red lights, yield to pedestrians. Be as predictable as possible, even if it does mean occasional losing momentum. ÂEUR ¢ When overtaking other cyclists, let them know that you are passing them so they can get over to the right if possible, and so they will not be started. If riding with other riders, ride single file. You do not want to aggravate drivers. Be polite to others, and they are likely to return the favor.
  • Perhaps most important, be defensive. Do not ever absorb that a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers when possible. Be aware of cars coming out of driveways, people walking dogs.

Remember to share the road with others, and if you want respect while riding your bicycle, then return the respect to others. Enjoy safe cycling, be healthy, burn carbohydrates – not hydrocarbons, and may the wind always be at your back.