Nobody wants to be seriously injured in a bicycle accident. Unfortunately, bike accidents may be on the rise, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In the United States, about 857 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes in 2018.
That represents an increase of 6% over 2017, and as you might suspect, the number is expected to continue creeping up once 2019’s statistics are compiled. If you’re out there on two wheels, it’s in your best interests to stay safe out there. Here are a few tips to keep yourself protected while you’re on your bike.
Wear Proper Safety Gear
Better safe than sorry, right? Though it might seem like a small deal, wearing safety equipment while riding just might save your life. At minimum, you want to make sure you’ve got a quality helmet that will fit you correctly. That means the helmet should be sitting low on your forehead (about one or two finger-widths above your brow), and should strap securely under your chin without being uncomfortable.
You should avoid wearing loose clothes while riding (as they can get caught in your pedals or bike chain, leading to disaster). Additionally, if you’re in the market for extra protection, you might consider knee-pads, elbow-pads, and wrist guards as well.
Prep Your Bike For Success
If you don’t have control of your bicycle, the chances you’ll end up in an accident increase. You want to make sure your bike isn’t too big for you to handle safely. Beyond that, you’ll want to make sure you maintain your bike regularly, checking your tire pressure and brakes to mitigate failures on the road.
If you’re riding someplace and need to transport some items with you, it’s worth investing in some storage capacity on your bike (and making sure you practice riding with gear in tow so it doesn’t feel unpredictable). Finally, be sure to tie your shoelaces before you head out — wouldn’t want those caught in the chain either!
Watch Your Riding Behavior
When you drive a car, you might drive defensively to help prevent accidents. You can apply similar thinking to riding your bicycle as well.
Make sure you’re going with the flow of traffic, make sure you’re following all the road rules and markings, and don’t ever assume that vehicles can see you. Take control of anticipating hazards and responding accordingly, and you’ll have adopted a better mindset for staying safe.
And if you’re interested, you might also consider taking a few hands-on classes from your local bike shop or rec center, honing your riding skills further and giving yourself the tools you need to stay safe on the road.