Cycling is good for the heart and great for the mind; it boosts health, increases social circles and promotes feelings of wellbeing. Yet too many people are put off from all this goodness thanks to a perception of risk.
While it’s true that many American cities are built mainly with the car in mind and with wide roads made for speed, riding bicycles is on the up, and according to Momentum Magazine, the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks 9:1.
Whether you live in an engine-revving, honking metropolis, or a city where cycling is embedded in the the culture, considering some top bicycle safety tips will go a long way to ensuring your happy future on two wheels.
Step 1. Learn the rules, solo and with riding buddies
Venturing into the world of road riding can feel intimidating at first, but with some basic rules under your belt, you’ll soon ride with confidence which in turn increases your bicycle safety. While some of your pedaling will be solo, group riding is a great way to build confidence; you’ll be more visible to cars and you’ll meet plenty of new riding friends to learn from. When riding solo, stay vigilant, hold a confident position so you can be seen (no ‘riding in the gutter’), signal clearly and check over your shoulder before switching lanes. If in any doubt, wait. Many accidents happen when on the inside of a large vehicle; while it can be tempting to sneak through a small gap, it’s best to hold back, steer clear and stay safe.
“Gone are the days of the cabbage leaf!”
Step 2. Find confidence through a quality kit
Never has a cycling helmet been as technologically advanced as it is today. The first long-distance cyclists wore a cabbage leaf on their heads under their casquettes (caps) to protect them from cold and rain! Thankfully, gone are the days of the cabbage leaf. Instead, meet the latest innovation, MIPS helmets (Multi-directional impact protection system). The patented brain protection system enables the helmet to slide relative to the head for extra safety against impact. Next up, think bright. High visibility (or ‘hi-viz’) cycle clothing isn’t to everyone’s taste, but safety wins over style. Bright yellows, pinks and greens with reflective technology will dramatically increase your levels of protection, along with good quality bike lights. Invest in quality front and rear illumination, and ideally a back-up for both in the event of failure. Use your lights in daylight too for confident bicycle safety in traffic. Finally, in the unfortunate event that you do have an incident, the ICEdot band, a sleek wearable form of ID provides a way for emergency service personnel to access critical health information in the event of an accident where you are unresponsive. It will also notify your emergency contacts (partner, family) if you so choose.
Step 3. Get back to basics — every time
Most cyclists will remember their first outing on a new bike, the different wheels, the pedals… rarely are we on auto pilot in those precious first few rides! But when we learn a new skill, eventually it becomes second nature. The skills we learn as cyclists are no exception to this, but here’s the golden rule, they should be treated differently! With habit can come sloppiness and risk. Confidently practice the basics every time you head out; checking carefully and staying alert to your surroundings, signaling clearly and positioning yourself assertively to ensure you’re visible.
Practice these three rules and you’ll be on the road to acquiring a blend of cautious confidence — the perfect cocktail for bicycle safety. Before long you’ll be enjoying all the health benefits that come with riding each day and what’s more, you’ll be part of an all-important positive movement that eventually will help our cities to be built with cycling in mind.
For more safety tips or questions about gear, give us a call or pop in. We love a safety chat!
Photo Credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/street-bike-urban-bra…