Many times, bicyclists share the road with vehicles, it is important to remember the following safety tips to avoid any danger when riding a bicycle:
Choose your route carefully
The issue of choosing a route on a bike is one of the instances where we see a difference between bikes and cars. In an ideal world, you could ride your bike wherever you wanted. But the truth is that there are many streets that are not safe for cyclists, whether because there are too many cars traveling at high speeds, lots of parked cars on the side of the road, or any one of the other dangers that cyclists face. Think carefully about where you choose to ride and don’t be afraid to take a route that might be a little longer in the name of safety.
Be flexible with your road position
One of the common mistakes of novice riders is that they often pick a spot in the road to ride and stick with it, regardless of the traffic around them. You should ride predictably, and not weave in and out of traffic. However, a cyclist’s road position should be flexible, based upon the surrounding environment. A good rule of thumb is this: the closer you’re going to the speed of traffic, the closer you should ride to the traffic. If you are going much slower than traffic, ride far to the right. If you are going almost as fast as everyone else, ride near the traffic stream. This helps make you visible and discourages drivers from turning in front of you. If you’re going as fast as other traffic, ride in traffic. Never, ever ride fast in the gutter. Drivers will not be looking in the gutter for fast-moving traffic.
You should also be aware that your road position is very important at intersections. If you plan to go straight through an intersection, do not pull to the right. This fools drivers into thinking you are going to turn right. This may seem simple, but this one change can help you avoid 20-40 percent of all car-bike crashes.
Learn to use your brakes effectively
Braking might seem simple, but experienced riders have sophisticated technique for stopping under varied conditions. In general, your front brake can stop the bike significantly faster than the rear brake. But when the road is slippery for any reason, you should use your rear brake. See below for more information on how to do a short stop.
Make yourself visible
Every bike should be equipped with both a rear light and a headlight. Don’t skimp on cheap lighting—you want these lights to be reliable. If you do a lot of riding at night, consider getting a reflective vest and reflective gloves. Reflective gloves allow you to signal at night.
Essential Riding Skills
Here is a list of essential riding skills for cyclists. These are meant to go beyond the basics like how to mount a bike, etc., but instead cover a few maneuvers that will help you avoid accidents.
This may seem basic, but there are many riders who have trouble maintaining a straight line while looking over their shoulder, given that the body naturally turns in the direction of the head, taking the handlebars with it. Even if you use a rear-view mirror, you should always look over your shoulder before moving in any direction. Not only does this give you a better view of surrounding traffic, it can also signal to other drivers that you intend to turn or move. If you have trouble keeping straight, you can practice in an empty parking lot. Ride next to a paint stripe, and ride along while looking back, trying to spot specific objects behind you. Keep a light hold on the handlebars, and if you still have trouble, you can try pushing forward with the arm that corresponds to the direction you are looking. You can also try dropping your hand to your thigh, away from the bars, so you don’t pull on the bars as you turn.
A great way to get thrown from a bike is to slam on the brakes, which many riders have learned the hard way. You can learn how to stop quickly without getting thrown with just a little practice. The idea of the short stop is to change how weight is normally distributed when you brake. When you brake hard, your body’s weight moves from the rear to the front wheel, leaving the rear end lighter and lighter until the back tire starts to skid and lift. To do the short stop, you should rise off the seat of the bike and move your whole body back to keep more weight on the rear wheel. In this position, you can squeeze the front brake harder than the rear brake without going over, which allows you to stop more quickly because your front brake has more stopping power. If you feel the rear wheel start to skid, just let up on the front brake. This is counter-intuitive for many beginners, as the tendency in an emergency is to hit the front brake as hard as possible. However, skillful cyclists can learn to ease up as soon as they feel the rear tire start to skid.
Learning to quickly steer around obstructions in the road, like rocks, without moving too far in either direction is vital. You can practice this by using something soft as your “rock,” like a wet sponge. Ride towards the “rock” slowly. At the last minute, turn your handlebars sharply to avoid it with your front wheel. Once your wheel is past the object, turn your handlebars the other way and straighten out. With a little practice, you can learn to avoid objects in your path with little more than a twitch of the front wheel.
Hopefully, by riding defensively, you can avoid situations where you would need to use the quick turn to avoid an oncoming car. That said, sometime you may find yourself in the path of a car turning right, and need to get away fast. Normally, when a bike turns, it turns because you lean into the direction you want to go, and you gradually fall into the direction of the turn. With the quick turn, the trick is to turn towards the car (i.e., the wrong way) very briefly first. Once you have turned briefly away from the direction you want to go, you have set up the lean in the right direction. Then, turn hard in the direction you want to go. You’ll find that with a little practice you can learn to turn sharply with little notice.