Tips for Staying Safe on the Roads
Whether you use your bike as a pastime or as part of your daily commute to work, there is no doubt that cycling is a great way to stay fit, save money and enjoy the great outdoors. Unfortunately, it is also a good way to put yourself at risk from other road users, and there has been a six per cent increase in bicycling fatalities in the USA over the past ten years.
With roads getting busier and traffic faster, a cyclist is more exposed and has less protection than other road users. So how can you continue to enjoy all the benefits that cycling brings while keeping yourself safe on the roads? Here are three top tips to help protect you from becoming another accident statistic.
Make yourself obvious
The world would be a more peaceful place if everybody traveled by bicycle. The trouble is, the fact that cyclists are so unobtrusive is what puts them at the greatest risk. A bell is essential, and is also a legal requirement in many cities. Police officers do not hesitate to issue a ticket if they see a cyclist without one.
Also, make sure you can be seen. If you are out after dark you need a good quality light at the front and rear, and should always check the batteries before you set out. For the best visibility, it is worth considering a fluorescent tabard - it might not be the height of fashion, but it could save your life.
Be careful at intersections
Accident statistics show that more collisions between cycles and cars occur at intersections than anywhere else. Be particularly vigilant for the "right hook," when a motorist passing on your left turns right into an intersection without seeing you. It sounds harsh, but if you assume that every other road user is an incompetent fool, you will be ready for anything.
The door zone
Be careful passing parallel parked cars, and try to keep a distance of about four feet if you can safely do so. This will keep you safe if an occupant suddenly opens their door as you ride by. This has caused a disproportionate number of serious injuries over the years, usually due to cyclists colliding with other traffic as they swerve to take evasive action. If you find yourself facing this sort of incident, it is often safer to run into the opening door than to risk swerving into the unknown.