A while ago, we gave you some great tips for beginner cyclists – you can take a read here if you haven’t seen it. It was a comprehensive guide, but there is one area that we should probably expand on a little further: safety. Make no mistake about it, cycling in the wrong place at the wrong time can be catastrophic. So, while it’s important to go out and buy a lot of safety gear for your cycling experience, it’s also vital to learn how to ride well. In this guide, we’re going to give you some excellent cycling safety tips. Follow them, and you should keep yourself out of trouble.
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All parts of the bicycle are essential for your safety, but some are more important than others. Let’s start with the most obvious – the brakes. It is vital that your brakes work well, of course. But, it’s also important that you can access them properly. If the distance between the brake lever and your handlebars is too great, you will have to overstretch to reach them. It’s this problem that lengthens your emergency stop time. And, those extra milliseconds could mean the difference between a safe stop and an accident. Not only that, but you will have a lot more control over your brakes if you can reach them in comfort.
Another thing to watch out for is your saddle. It needs to be as comfortable as possible to stop it from distracting you. And, you need to take great care to ensure that it is fitted well and won’t move position as you cycle. Again, this can cause you great distraction, and can even make you slip out of your seat at an inopportune time. Make sure you have your bike serviced often, too. It will help you spot minor problems before they become more serious. And, of course, reduce the chances of those issues becoming dangerous mid-ride.
Invest in quality safety gear
Everyone knows about the importance of wearing a cycling helmet – and it’s something that you should invest in. The chances of suffering from a severe head injury are high if you don’t wear a helmet, even from an innocuous and soft fall. Buying a good quality helmet is your first step to becoming a safer cyclist- but it isn’t your last.
You should also look at all your gear, including your cycling shorts. Surprising as it may be, the better quality of shorts you wear, the less likely you are to have an accident. And, they will give you protection if you were to have a fall or a crash. The key part to remember about cycling shorts is that the chamois is there for a reason, and is meant to be worn next to the skin. That means no underwear at all – as it can lead to painful chafing. The point is that when you are uncomfortable, you will find it easier to suffer from distractions. And, that makes it a lot more likely you will have a crash. So, invest well in a good pair of shorts, well-fitting cycling shoes, and gloves with excellent grips. It all adds up to a much safer ride.
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Excellent cycling is all about positioning. And, the simple fact is that most cyclists don’t have a clue -which is why you see so many bikers riding so close to the curb. When you take a step back and think about this, it makes no sense at all. You need to swerve to avoid drains, cars will be more encouraged to overtake you, and all it takes is for your wheel to move in and you will have a fall. But, if you move out a little away from the curb, it is much safer.
Yes, it’s counter intuitive, but make no mistake about it, it works. Drivers will give you more respect – other than the occasional idiot that honks their horn – and keep their distance. They won’t try and overtake you in a tight squeeze. And, of course, you won’t have to swerve in a violent manner to avoid any debris or holes on the road. Try riding around two-to-three yards from the curb and you will feel a lot safer on the roads.
Don’t forget that cycling safety involves you doing your bit to stay within the law, too. There are a lot of cyclists out there that flaunt the rules – which are there for a reason. In some states, you might need a bike license, so make sure that you check your state’s cycling regulations. And, always keep tabs on the general cycling rules. Don’t go through red lights, or weave around them onto pedestrian areas. In fact, don’t ride in pedestrian areas at all, unless there are specific signs that tell you otherwise.
One-way streets are another rule that many cyclists flaunt. Don’t do it – unless there is a dedicated cycle path allowing you to do so. One good way of keeping up to speed with the laws is to sit a cycling proficiency test every once in awhile. The rules of the road slip fast from the mind, just as they do with cars. So, make sure you keep up to speed with the regulations and test yourself often to keep those rules at the forefront of your mind. Head over to the League of American Bicyclists organization for a full rundown of your responsibilities as a cyclist.
Finally, always take the weather into consideration. Whether it’s too hot or cold, too windy or wet, it can all have an effect on your cycling skills. Most accidents happen on the road during extreme weather conditions, so you have to be safe in the knowledge you can handle it. And, when you’re planning a long journey, be aware that the weather can change in a matter of minutes. You just can’t risk being taken by surprise – or it could result in a serious accident.
Safe cycling folks – and feel free to leave some of your tips below!