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Bicycle Safety Tips for “Ride to Work Day”

Jun 15th, 2023

Bicycle Safety Tips

National Ride to Work Day this year falls on Monday, June 19, providing an excellent opportunity to switch your daily commute from a car to a bicycle. Not only is it good for the environment, but it’s also good for your health. That’s not to say cycling doesn’t have risks, especially in city environments and during rush hour. If you haven’t made a habit (yet) of commuting on a bike, the following bicycle safety tips will help you stay safer on the roadways, both on Ride to Work Day and beyond.

Use Proper Safety Gear

When you’re bicycling, what you wear can literally save your life. Wearing a helmet alone can reduce your risk of brain injury by 50 percent or more (some research even suggests the risk is reduced by up to 85 percent). Always wear a helmet that is level and snug on your head. It should fit two fingers above your eyebrows. Avoid wearing headphones while cycling as they may mask important sounds like an approaching car or a siren.

In addition to wearing a helmet, make sure to wear brightly colored or reflective clothing that will make you visible to drivers. Using lights and reflectors on your bicycle is also a good idea, particularly if commuting before sunrise or after sundown.

Obey Traffic Rules

Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists when it comes to traffic rules–and since you’re exposed on a bicycle, obeying these rules is paramount to your safety. Ride in designated bike lanes when you have them; avoid weaving in and out of traffic when you don’t. Watch out for drivers opening car doors and dooring you. Use hand signals when turning or changing lanes. Always stop at stop signs and red lights. Following these traffic rules will help ensure you and others are safe on the road.

Plan Your Route

Before heading out, plan your route using bike lanes or paths where possible. Google Maps has an excellent routing feature to find safe cycling routes from your location. Doing so will help you avoid heavy traffic roads or dangerous intersections.

While riding, be aware of your surroundings, particularly cars and pedestrians. Keep your eyes and ears open, and always anticipate the unexpected.

Keep Your Bicycle Maintained

Many bicycle accidents occur because the bicycle is in poor condition (e.g., loose steering, chain, weak brakes). Before heading out on the bike for Ride to Work Day (or any other day), check your bike’s condition. Test the brakes and ensure tires are pumped to the right pressure. Routine maintenance is crucial to keep your bike in good condition and improves your overall safety while cycling. Have the bicycle checked at a bike shop if you spot any issues that go beyond your experience or even if the bike just doesn’t “feel right.” Err on the side of caution.

Keep an Eye on the Weather

Cycling in adverse weather conditions can be challenging, especially in the rain. If it’s wet or raining, wear an appropriate raincoat or poncho that is visible, and avoid puddles, as they can be slippery. (Better yet, just skip the bicycle commute that day.) Also, avoid cycling in high winds as they can easily cause you to lose your balance or swerve into traffic involuntarily.

Practicing bicycle safety can reduce your risk of an accident, but remember that you have as many rights on the road as motorists do—and if someone causes you to be injured on a bicycle due to negligence, you may be able to claim compensation for injuries. If you were injured in a bicycling accident, contact our offices for a case evaluation.