Summer weather is the time for outdoor activities! For many, outdoor adventures involve riding bikes. Although bike riding can be a scenic, fun event, it is very important to stay safe. In 2016, 840 bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle crashes. These accidents occurred because both cyclists and drivers were not engaged in safe driving habits. To maximize the fun, keep these five safety tips in mind when riding your bike.
- Helmets. Wear them! While Pennsylvania law does not require adults to wear a helmet, a helmet is required for any child under 12 years old. A helmet is the first line of defense for a biker in preventing serious injury. Size and style may differ between manufacturers, so it may take some time to find the best fit for you. A helmet that fits improperly will provide less protection than a helmet that fits properly.
- Defensive Biking. Be focused and alert before heading out on a bike. Avoid texting, talking on a cell phone, or listening to music while on your bike. Distractions can cause you to miss important visual and audio cues on the road. Defensive biking also involves wearing clothes that make it easier for other bikers and motor vehicle drivers to see you. Pick brightly colored clothes that fit well, and don’t hang loosely around you.
- Rules of the Road. Defensive biking also includes following the rules of the road. Bikers are required to abide by the same laws as motorists. Bike where other drivers can see you, and use the proper hand signals, where appropriate. Most accidents occur because other drivers could not see bikers, or the biker failed to communicate with other drivers as to his or her intentions. Also be sure to check local laws, to see if there are any regulations about biking on sidewalks or on roadways. Some local ordinances don’t allow bikes on the main roads, because townships have built special bike paths for bikers to use, instead.
- Timing is Everything. When and where should you bike? Bike during daylight hours. During the day, avoid biking at peak traffic times, like morning and evening rush hour. For your safety in the summer, you also want to avoid biking during the heat of the day. If you do have to bike at night, wear bright clothing, and make sure that you and the bike are well illuminated. You can make the bike more visible by adding reflectors to the wheels and sides of the bike, and/or using lights. Avoid biking on unknown roads and unpaved roads, especially at night.
- Maintenance. You should be inspecting your bike regularly for any defects. Before heading out, make sure that your bike is in good working order. You can accomplish this by doing a “walk around” of the bike. Check to make sure that there is enough pressure in the tires, that the brakes work, and that there are no loose belts or gears on the bike. When you return from your trip, be sure to fix any problems or damage that occurred while out on the road.