Riders can follow existing bicycle safety rules that will immediately keep them safer in traffic. Even if a bike rider is 100% right, he or she will still be hurt in any confrontation with a car. A bike rider is always at a weight disadvantage against any 2,000-pound vehicle. This is the reason why major cities have adopted bicycle safety rules.
Wear Bicycle Safety Equipment
- A bicycle helmet. It is nearly impossible to go down without whip-lashing one’s head into the pavement. A helmet is designed to be destroyed before a skull — because skulls are fragile. Helmets weigh very little, and can even streamline the rider’s speed.
- Gloves. It is natural to protect one’s face during a fall by pressing away with the hands. This gives an exceptional case of road burn to the palms if there is nothing between them and the road surface. Padded gloves can reduce compression stress from holding the handlebars on long rides. Gloves can be used to wipe broken glass from the tires, before it can work deep when one hits a patch of the cast-off bottle.
- Mouth guard. It is the energy that is transmitted to a boxer’s brain that knocks him out. The same type guard used in contact sports stabilizes the jaw and pad the teeth from clenching. There are mouth guards with central vents that don’t affect breathing or spitting.
- Body armor is mostly designed to spread the effect of hitting something sharp, like a stone on the road. Shin, knee or elbow guards provide protection to frequently scraped joints. The goal is to put something between one’s skin and the road.
- Flags, lights, and reflectors. Drivers tend not to see what they are not expecting, which frequently means a bicycle on the road. Use anything possible to increase one’s road presence. Flags come in white or orange for high visibility. The stanchion raises the flag for a larger cross section. Use the largest headlight available, and the blinking rear light that identifies a bicycle. Reflectors on helmets, jerseys, spokes or pedals move in a jerky pattern, drawing the attention of drivers.
Follow Bicycle Rules for Rider Safety
Ride a bike with traffic. Riding against traffic only adds the speed of the bicycle to the speed of the vehicle. For example, consider a car traveling at 25 mph and a bike traveling at ten mph. Riding towards the car will yield a 35 mph crash. Riding with the traffic will yield a 15 mph crash. Slower speed crashes are more survivable.
Crosswalks are for pedestrians. Stop, look both ways for traffic and walk the bike across only when safe, especially when you are in a busy street like in New York. Car drivers are so prepped to look for vehicular traffic that they just don’t see bicyclists. By understanding that a rider is invisible to drivers, a rider will make better safety choices. However, when you tour in & around Central Park, you need not worry because there are designated bike lanes.
Hand signals are how the cars know what the bicyclist plans to do. For locales that drive on the right side of the road, this is a view of the rider’s back. It is the rider’s “front” in places that drive on the left side of the road. Always signal with the arm toward the center of the road. Give drivers all the help possible to allow them to get around the biker.
Children can be taught to evaluate their surroundings critically. Talk about rider safety in advance to establish behavioral guidelines for those times that being late or being emotional might cause them to forget. A rider can avoid more injuries by riding safely than by all the safety equipment he wears.
The rider’s brain is his best safety equipment. Be seen and avoid other traffic, because cyclists can’t depend on drivers to always do the safest thing.