Bicycling is tremendously popular in the United States as a mode of transportation, a sport and a way to improve individual health through exercise. According to the National Safety Council, more than 57 million Americans ride a bicycle on a regular basis.
Because many of these bicyclists share the roadways with motor vehicles, the rules of defensive driving apply to cyclists as well as motorists. The road can be a dangerous place for young and old cyclists. In 2005, 1,000 bicyclists died after being struck by a motor vehicle and 51,000 suffered disabling injuries.
According to the National Safety Council, cyclists should take the following precautions when venturing onto a roadway:
Obey traffic rules! Did you know that bicyclists must obey most of the same laws as motorists - including stopping for red lights and being on the right side of the road.
Practice safe turning by using hand signals. Cross through intersections with caution.
Always be visible! Wear bright clothing - even during the day. Operating a bicycle on the road at night is not advised. If it must be done, wear retro-reflective clothing.
Ride in single file, with traffic...not against it. You should stay as far to the right of the roadway as possible. Keep a safe distance from all vehicles.
Watch for hazards. Opening car doors, left turning vehicles, storm drain gratings, broken glass and other debris can ruin a great bike ride.
Safety equipment! All bicycles should have a red reflector on the rear and a white reflector on the front. Reflectors should also be present on the spokes of each tire and on each of the pedals. A horn or bell combined with a rear view mirror also enhance safety. Lastly, check your tire pressure, brakes and chain to make sure they are in good working order.
Wear a helmet! Regardless of your age! Head injuries cause about 85% of all bicycling fatalities.