If it’s been a while since you put your feet to the pedals, here’s a good bike safety list to review to keep you in the saddle
Earlier this month, I offered some advice for both bicyclists and motorists on how to share the road with one another, as part of the kickoff to National Bike Month. Today, I wanted to share a bike safety checklist.
This is a good go-to guide if you’ve recently unearthed your bike from behind all the other warm-weather things stored in the garage over the winter. It’s also a good bike safety checklist to review if you’re taking a weekend getaway where bicycles can be rented.
Bike safety essentials
- Make it a perfect fit: If you’re renting a bike, make sure the one you choose isn’t too big for you; otherwise controlling it will be difficult. If you’re buying a new bike, take some test runs in the store parking lot.
- Give it a thorough check: Be sure the brakes and gear shifts work, the handlebars have a good grip, and the tires are pumped.
- Be visible: Put on clothes that will not just protect you but also make you more visible to others, such as bright clothing for day rides and a shirt with reflective spots for night rides. In addition, affix a white front light and red rear light for night rides, and give the reflectors a shining.
- Review or replace your helmet: This is an absolute must. A helmet reduces the risk of head injury by 85%, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Get yourself properly fitted for one, and your children, too. While all of these safety tips are important, to me as a lawyer who has helped many people seriously injured in bike accidents, this one is the most important. The most common serious injury after a bike accident that I see is often a brain injury. The risk of a life-altering TBI can be significantly reduced by wearing a helmet and making sure it fits properly.
- Nothing loose: Put all items you’re carrying in a backpack or in a rear affixed bag. Holding something in your hand instead of keeping your hand on the handlebar means a 50% decrease in handlebar control.
- Fill ’er up: Keep a bottle of cold water in the bottle holder or in your backpack. Getting dehydrated on the road means losing control and risking your health.
- No dangling laces: To prevent shoelaces from getting caught in the bike chain, double knot them and tuck them into your shoes. Also, if the cuffs of your pants are wide or billowy, pin them or roll them up.
- Check the map: If you’re planning to drive on the road with cars, pick a route that has less traffic and slower speeds. Better still, try to get away from traffic altogether by opting for a bike lane or bike path.
- Room for just one: Don’t ride with more than one person on the seat, or else you’ll lose your balance. If you really want a partner involved with the process, find a tandem bike.
- Speak bike sign language: Hand signals are not passé. They’re crucial when riding in an area with cars and other vehicles, to let them know if you’re turning, stopping or moving from a lane.
- Take a few test spins: We’ve all heard the adage “You never forget how to ride a bike.” But that doesn’t mean you will be automatically used to riding one after eight months of not doing so. Give yourself a few initial laps around the block before venturing out further.
And with that, here’s to fun, adventurous travels, all the while keeping bike safety in mind.