Here is a great article made in the USA but very transferable to biking anywhere cars exist.
Make sure you know the rules of the road. Biking can be just as safe as driving — in fact, some studies claim it’s the safest transportation for young adults — when everyone follows the law and uses plenty of common sense. Below is a cheat sheet on how to avoid accidents (and tickets) on the road. Happy cycling!
- Bike on the road in the same direction as traffic (only bikers under age 12 are legally allowed to ride on sidewalks). Even though they lack a motor, bicycles are considered road vehicles just like cars and trucks.
- Stop at red lights and stop signs, and obey other traffic signs (i.e. one-way street, yield, etc.), just like you would in a car.
- Use marked bike paths or lanes when they’re available.
While each state has its own rules and regulations, most areas require cyclists to sport the following safety equipment:
- Helmet (this fancy one keeps track of fitness info while protecting the noggin!)
- Bell or horn
- White headlight and red taillight when riding around sunrise, sunset, or at night
- Working brakes
- Reflectors on the front and back of the bicycle.
GOOD HABITS FOR BUSY STREETS
To make every cycling experience positive (and safe), follow safe biking practices. Most of these habits are geared towards keeping the cyclist visible to drivers and pedestrians in order to prevent accidents.
- Put down the phone. We shouldn’t even need to say this, but talking on the phone, texting, or checking Instagram while biking are major no-nos. Also refrain from listening to headphones because they can make it more difficult to hear approaching cars and pedestrians.
- Ride in a straight line. This one’s self-explanatory, but riding in a predictable fashion makes it easier for cars to go around (and not into) you.
- Stay on the right side of the lane, in a single-file line with other cyclists (not two or three abreast). If the street is too narrow for cars to pass, cyclists are allowed to ride in the middle of the lane to increase visibility. Keep an eye out for parked cars (or rather, doors from parked cars opening into the street). Avoid the dreaded door-into-cyclist snafu by staying a little bit closer to the center of the street if there are parked cars. Also, move towards the left side of the lane when turning left.
- Stay out of drivers’ blind spots, especially at traffic lights or stop signs.
- Always keep at least one hand on the handlebars. Save the “look, Ma, no hands!” tricks for the driveway at home.
- Signal well and make eye contact with drivers before making a turn or slowing down. All biking signals are done with the left arm, so keep the right hand on the handlebars for stability. If you’re not confident about your signaling skills, spend some time practicing turns in a quiet area where there is little traffic before hitting the busier roads (or nab a set of these sweet signal light armbands). Pointing to the Right is also acceptable as many drivers do not process the right turn with left hand signal well, sometimes we just have to be obvious!
- To turn left, extend the left arm straight out from your side, parallel to the ground.
- To turn right, extend the left arm out straight from the shoulder with the elbow bent and the left hand pointing straight up. The arm should form an “L” shape (See bold above)
- To slow down, extend the left arm out straight from the shoulder with the elbow bent and the left hand pointing straight down. It’s the opposite of the right-hand turn.
- Don’t drink and bike (duh).
- Stay visible. Wear bright colors for daytime riding and reflective materials for night.
- Consider sporting a mirror to keep track of cars behind you.
- Travel with a mini tool kit. If your trek is more than 10 minutes or down a lonely stretch of road, you’ll thank us. Take the time to learn how to do a fewquick repairs in advance of any big rides so you don’t get stranded!
- Have fun! Biking is all about enjoying the great outdoors, so don’t forget to smile while you signal.