The National Household Travel Survey showed that the number of bicycle trips made in the U.S. grew from 1.7 billion in 2001 to 4 billion in 2009. From 2000 to 2013, bicycle commuting in bike friendly communities increased 105%. Bike lanes are popping up more and more and cycling is becoming a way of life for many. Whether you bike to work or just ride for fun, here are some tips for safer cycling.

Wear your helmet

According to the National Safety Council, cyclists who wear a helmet decrease their risk of head injury by 50% and brain injury by 58%. In the case of a collision, a helmet can not only protect you, but it can save your life. Adjust your helmet straps so that they are snug and ensure that your helmet fits well; when you shake your head back and forth, your helmet should barely move. According to The League of American Bicyclists, wearing a bike helmet with loose straps is the same as not wearing a helmet at all.  If you’ve been involved in a collision or crash, replace your helmet, as it’s efficacy may be compromised.

Limit passengers

Allowing another person to ride on your bike that’s designed for one person can increase the risk of collision and injury. If a collision were to occur you may not be protected legally, even if the other rider or driver is at fault. You put yourself and your passenger in a vulnerable position as you lack protection physically and legally.

Don’t wear a headset

Although it may be tempting to put in headphones to drown out the city traffic, it impairs your ability to remain alert and aware. It’s crucial to see and hear what’s going on around you to prevent a potential crash.

Be cautious at intersections

According to Consumer Reports, about half of bike crashes occur at intersections. Be especially careful as you are crossing an intersection. Look for traffic and obey traffic signals.

Pass behind pedestrians

To help avoid a collision with pedestrians, pass behind a pedestrian rather than crossing in front of them. An individual’s natural reaction to trouble is to jump forward and away rather than stopping and backing up.  

Watch out for parked cars

That’s right. Many crashes occur from drivers opening their car doors into oncoming cyclists. Even if there aren’t any cars on the road, ride 4 feet away from parked cars to leave room for doors that could potentially open and cause injury.

Plan ahead

If you are riding with another person or a group of cyclists, decide ahead of time where you are headed and what route you plan to take. This will help prevent potential confusion and collisions between cyclists.

Maintain the condition of your bike

Ensure that your bike is in good working condition and that’s it’s ready to ride before you head out on the road. Regularly inspect your bike or take it to a local shop for a routine tune-up. Do a basic bike check and remember the ABC Quick Check.

 

A: Air

B: Brakes

C: Cranks and chain

Quick: Quick releases

Check: Check it over

Equip for the night

Riding at night brings added dangers to a cyclist. Place reflectors on the rear, front, pedals and spokes. Wear reflective clothing and gear to make sure that you’re seen in the night. Do a practice run and have someone check your visibility before going for an evening ride alone.

Use hand signals

Communicate with other riders and vehicles using universal hand signals. Note your intentions to turn, stop or change lanes utilizing textbook hand signals. Be especially communicative in high-trafficked areas or on busy roads as there tends to be many distractions.

Do your research

If you plan to ride your bike through unfamiliar territory such as a new city or park, ensure that you know the bike laws and any rules specific to the area so that you aren’t caught off guard. Preparation can help you avoid illegal maneuvers and stay safe during your ride.

Obey laws

In all 50 states, bicyclists are required to obey the same laws as other drivers. Keep yourself and others safe by riding with traffic instead of going against the flow.

Whether you are riding a bike for exercise, as a mode of transportation, for convenience purposes or to save energy, make safety a priority. If you need assistance with a bike-related accident or injury, contact your local attorney to discuss your case.