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Bicycle Safety

bike.jpgA bicycle can be a lot of fun. You can get plenty of exercise and enjoyment from your bicycle but it important to make your ride a safe one.

1) Choose the bike that's right for you. Consider the different styles. Choose the bike that's best for the type of driving you plan to do.

  • Lightweight bike - has a light frame and many gears. It's good for racing or driving long distances on paved roads. 
  • Mountain bike or all-terrain bike - has wide, knobby tires and a strong frame. It's good for driving on rough ground and paved roads. 
  • Mountain bike or all-terrain bike - has wide, knobby tires and a strong frame. Motocross bike (BMX) has a heavy-duty frame. It has raised handlebars, knobby tires and a rear coaster brake (foot brake). 

2) Get the right fit. A bike that's too big or small can be uncomfortable and dangerous.

  • Frame size - with both feet flat on the ground, straddle a bike's crossbar. If there's 1 or 2 inches between you and the bar (3 inches for mountain bikes), that's the frame size for you. 
  • Seat height - sit on the seat. You need to be able to touch the ground with the balls of both feet. Lower the seat if you are leaning to one side. 
  • Handlebars - the grips should be at about seat level. With dropped handlebars, the upper part should be at or a little below seat level. 

3) Inspect your bike often. Proper bicycle maintenance can keep you safely on the road:

  • Frame - wipe off dirt and moisture to help prevent rust. 
  • Tires - these should be firm, free of cracks and worn spots and properly inflated. 
  • Handlebars - are they tightened properly? Replace any worn hand grips or tape. 
  • Wheels - look for loose or missing spokes; wheels should not wobble. 
  • Chain - keep the chain clean and oiled. It should fit securely and not be loose. 
  • Seat - make sure the seat fits securely and is adjusted to the proper height. 
  • Brakes - be sure brakes work smoothly and quietly. 
  • Pedals - check the treads and replace damaged pedals to keep feet from slipping. 
  • Safety Equipment - make sure all reflectors are clean and unbroken. 

4) Dress for Safety

  • Always wear a helmet. A helmet can prevent serious head injuries and save your life. In many areas, they're required by law. Replace your helmet every 5 years (earlier if recommended by the manufacturer) and after any crash, even if it looks undamaged. 
  • Buy a helmet that is approved by ANSI, the Snell Memorial Foundation and or another legally authorized certifying organization, has plenty of ventilation holes and fits securely (wear the helmet low on your forehead just above your eyebrows). It should not move around on your head. 

5) Be Visible. During the day, wear bright colors such as yellow, orange or bright pink. Avoid driving at night. If you must drive after dark, always wear reflective tape and white or light-colored clothing.

6) Follow the rules of the road.

  • Stop and check for traffic before entering any street. 
  • Always be aware of any cars or trucks around you. 
  • Always drive on the right with the flow of traffic. 
  • Use caution at intersections - go slowly and yield to pedestrians. 

7) Use hand signals every time. Learn the correct way to signal:

  • left turn - left arm held straight out 
  • right turn - left arm turned up or right arm held straight out 
  • slow or stop- left arm bent downward 

8) Obey traffic signals at all times. Bike drivers must obey the same laws as drivers of other vehicles on the road.

  • Steady green - go 
  • Steady yellow - warning (you should stop) 
  • Steady red - stop 
  • flashing yellow - slow down, drive ahead carefully 
  • flashing red - stop and check for traffic, then drive ahead carefully 
  • green arrow - turn in the direction indicated only 

9) Some other tips to remember.

  • Ride single file when biking with others. 
  • Be extra careful in bad weather. Rain can make it harder for you to stop your bike. 
  • Don't try to show off and ride double. 
  • Never hitch a ride by holding onto a car, truck or another bicycle. 
  • Do not wear headphones when biking; you need to be able to hear traffic noise that is around you.