The National Safety Council offers the following tips for
safe and enjoyable bicycling:
- Obey traffic rules. Get acquainted with ordinances. Cyclists
must follow the same rules as motorists.
- Know your bike's capabilities. Remember that bicycles differ
from motor vehicles; they're smaller and can't move as fast. But, they can change
direction more easily, stop faster and move through smaller spaces.
- Ride in single file with traffic, not against it. Bicycling
two abreast can be dangerous. Bicyclists should stay as far right on the pavement as
possible, watching for opening car doors, sewer gratings, soft shoulders, broken glass and
other debris. Remember to keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.
- Make safe turns and cross intersections with care. Signal
turns half a block before the intersection, using the correct hand signals (left arm
straight out for left turn; forearm up for right turn). When traffic is heavy and the
cyclist has to turn left, it is best to dismount and walk the bicycle across both streets
at the crosswalks.
- Never hitch on cars. A sudden stop or turn could send the
cyclist flying into the path of another vehicle.
- Before riding into traffic: stop, look left, right, left
again, and over your shoulder.
- Always be seen. During the day, cyclists should wear bright
clothing. Nighttime cycling is not advised, but if riding at night is necessary,
retroreflective clothing, designed to bounce back motorists' headlight beams, will make
cyclists more visible.
- Make sure the bicycle has the right safety equipment: a red
rear reflector; a white front reflector; a red or colorless spoke reflector on the rear
wheel; an amber or colorless reflector on the front wheel; pedal reflectors; a horn or
bell; and a rear view mirror. A bright headlight is recommended for night riding.
- Wear a helmet. Head injuries cause about 75 percent of all
bicycling fatalities. The Council strongly urges all cyclists to wear helmets. The first
body part to fly forward in a collision is usually the head, and with nothing but skin and
bone to protect the brain from injury, the results can be disastrous. Look for helmets
with Snell Memorial Foundation or American National Standards Institute approval stickers.
A properly designed helmet has four characteristics:
-- a stiff outer shell designed to distribute impact forces and protect against sharp
-- an energy-absorbing liner at least one-half inch thick;
-- a chin strap and fastener to keep the helmet in place; and,
-- it should be lightweight, cool in hot weather and fit comfortably.