When it comes to being safe on the road, the first step is simple: Follow the rules. That might sound obvious, but I’ve seen countless people ride against red lights or act mindlessly in front of cars. Riding three or even four abreast and blocking the whole road is behavior that endangers not only the rider, but everyone else on the road as well.
1. INCREASE YOUR VISIBILITY
After you make sure you’re following the rules of the road, the next big step in improving your safety is increasing your visibility. The more visible you are, the earlier (and easier) a motorist can see you. I work closely with Trek Bikes (one of my sponsors), and they’ve developed a program called “ABC: Always On, Biomotion, Contrast.” Here’s how it breaks down:
A: “A” stands for “always have your lights running” — during bright daylight, dusk, and dawn. Look for strong lights that allow for visibility of up to a mile, even in daylight.
B: “B” stands for “biomotion,” or the idea that moving parts create more attention than static parts. That means that highlighting your constantly-pedaling feet with colorful shoe covers, brightly colored shoes, and even leg warmers is ideal. Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd — it could help save your life.
C: “C” stands for “contrast.” Use reflectors on your bike. Many companies offer clothing with integrated reflective parts, whether they’re on your shoulder, across your back, or even on your gloves or arm warmers. That way, when the headlights of a car shine on you, your visibility will be increased. Visibility means safety. Never forget that, please.
2. USE BIKE LANES
Use designated bike lanes and paths when they’re available. They’re made for cyclists, so why not take advantage? Not only will they prevent you from having to weave around cars, but they’ll also help prevent road congestion.
3. STAY AWARE
When you ride, look more than 10 feet ahead. Look farther ahead to see what’s coming up, whether that’s an intersection, a turn in the road, or a pothole to avoid. Try to be aware of the general traffic situation — where the cars are, where trucks are, and the location of buses. Also be sure to know the rules of the road and practice common courtesy, like using the exit on the road to quickly stop and let cars pass on uphill portions of a ride.
4. HAVE A TOOLKIT READY
Round out a safe ride out by packing a tool kit. A spare tire and mini toolkit always come in handy, and they’re great to have even if you don’t need them every ride. Just make sure you have some practice changing tires in your garage before you hit the road; there’s nothing more frustrating than being out there and unable to help yourself. Also remember to always carry an ID, have an emergency call number on hand, and have some cash and a credit card with you. I suggest placing these items in a sealed, waterproof plastic bag together with your mobile phone. Bring enough liquid with you as well — dehydration not only lowers your performance, but it also results in a lack of energy and reduces your ability to concentrate. Last but not least, bring a helmet! You want to have fun on your ride, but you also want to come home in one piece. Now get out there and enjoy your safe ride, my friends.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.