Cycling is a refreshing and efficient way to travel, offering substantial health benefits and an enjoyable means to embrace the outdoors.
However, bike safety is paramount to ensure a secure ride. Here, we delve into 11 key bicycle safety tips in more detail.
1. Wear a Helmet
The first and foremost rule of bike safety is wearing a helmet. It can make a huge difference, as it’s designed to absorb impact and protect your head during a fall or collision.
Helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by almost 60%, hence, always ensure you wear one, properly fastened and adjusted to fit snugly.
Wearing a helmet is mandatory in Singapore if you are riding on the road.
Choose a helmet that meets safety standards and remember to replace it after a significant impact, even if it looks intact.
2. Use Hand Proper Signals
To communicate your intentions to other road users, it’s essential to use proper hand signals. Extending your left arm out straight signals a left turn, while your right arm indicates a right turn.
Before turning or changing lanes, always look back to ensure it’s safe and try to make eye contact with other drivers to confirm they’ve recognized your signal. Clear and early signalling can prevent many accidents.
3. Follow Traffic Laws
As a cyclist, you share the road with vehicles and thus must abide by the same rules. This includes obeying traffic signals, stop signs, yield signs, and all other traffic laws.
Similarly, there are often specific bike safety rules in your country of residence. Particularly in Singapore, this is administered by Sport Singapore.
Adhering to these rules is not just a legal requirement, but it also prevents accidents and encourages harmonious sharing of the road.
4. Use Bike Lanes
Dedicated bike lanes are designed to separate cyclists from vehicle traffic, making them safer spaces to ride. Whenever they’re available, use these lanes.
However, if there are no bike lanes, keep to the left side of the road as much as is practically possible. Always be attentive and ensure that you are visible to drivers, especially at intersections where most bicycle-related accidents occur.
5. Be Visible
Visibility is a significant factor in bike safety. During daylight hours, wearing brightly coloured clothing can help drivers and other road users spot you from a distance.
At night or in low light conditions, always use a white front and red rear LED lights as this is mandatory in Singapore. Consider using additional reflective materials on your clothing, helmet, or bike to make yourself more visible.
6. Avoid Busy Streets
Whenever feasible, plan your route to avoid high-traffic streets.
Roads with heavy traffic are high-risk areas due to the potential for car doors suddenly opening or vehicles pulling into traffic without noticing a cyclist.
Look for quieter streets or those with dedicated bike lanes for safer travel or. You might want to set off earlier in the morning to avoid peak hour traffic.
7. Watch Out for Parked Cars
Parked cars present a unique danger known as “dooring,” where a driver or passenger opens a car door into your path.
Always ride a safe distance away from parked cars, ideally out of the “door zone,” which is typically about a meter wide.
8. Be Cautious of Road Hazards
Hazards like potholes, drain covers, loose gravel, wet leaves, and even manhole covers can cause you to lose control of your bike.
Slow down when approaching these obstacles, and, if possible, avoid them. When crossing drain covers, try to do so at a right angle to prevent your tires from slipping into the track grooves. A patch kit, a spare inner tube and a pump can be lifesavers in case of a flat tire due to these hazards.
9. Plan Ahead
Planning your ride goes beyond just knowing your route. Check the weather forecast before heading out.
Rain or high winds can make cycling dangerous, increasing the chance of accidents. In poor weather conditions, consider postponing your ride or finding an alternative mode of transportation.
10. Be Respectful of Other Cyclists
Respecting other cyclists means keeping a safe distance, not cutting them off, and overtaking only when it’s safe to do so.
Communication is crucial, so use bell signals or verbal cues when overtaking. Also, follow trail etiquette if you’re mountain biking, such as yielding to uphill traffic.
11. Maintain Your Bike
Proper bike maintenance is critical for safety. Regularly inspect your brakes, ensure your tires are correctly inflated, and keep your chain clean and lubricated.
A well-maintained bike not only ensures a smoother ride but also reduces the risk of accidents due to mechanical failure.
More Things To Consider
Understanding Your Bike’s Capabilities
Knowing your bike’s capabilities is essential for safe riding. If you’re riding a road bike, stick to paved surfaces. Road bikes are designed for speed and efficiency on smooth surfaces and may handle poorly on rough or loose terrain. Conversely, mountain bikes are built for off-road use and may not perform as well on roads, particularly at higher speeds.
You may also want to explore foldable bikes as an alternative to traditional bikes. It is often legal to carry foldable bikes into public transportation in most countries.
Maintain a Defensive Riding Approach
Just like defensive driving, defensive riding can save lives. Always be aware of your surroundings, anticipate potential risks, and never assume that a driver has seen you. Be prepared for vehicles to do the unexpected, like turning without signalling.
Ensure Regular Breaks During Long Rides
During long rides, make sure to take regular breaks. Not only will this help you rest and keep your energy levels up, but it also allows you time to do quick bike checks for any mechanical issues that might have arisen during the ride.
Adopt the Right Riding Position
Adopting a proper riding position can help prevent injuries and muscle strain. For instance, your knees should be slightly bent at the bottom of each pedal stroke. Your back should be flat, and you should be able to comfortably reach your handlebars without straining your back, shoulders, or wrists.
Regularly Practice Emergency Manoeuvres
Just like driving, unexpected situations can occur while biking. Regularly practice emergency manoeuvres like quick stops and immediate turns. This can prepare you to handle unexpected obstacles or sudden changes in traffic.
Remember, bike safety doesn’t stop at following rules. It also involves being proactive about your riding practices and maintenance. By adding these tips to your riding routine, you further ensure a safe and enjoyable cycling experience.