Ah, warmer weather has finally arrived (woot)! And with it many Canadians will be pulling their bicycles out of storage and hitting the roads and trails – including me. While bike riding is super fun, great exercise, environmentally friendly, and a fairly safe activity, it is important to remember that a bike ride can turn disastrous in a split second if proper bike safety precautions are not followed. According to figures from Transport Canada, 269 cyclists were killed on our roads between 2008 and 2012. In 2012 alone, bicycle-related accidents sent about 458 Canadians to emergency rooms.
So before you or a loved one takes a bicycle out for a spin, please consider the following safety tips.
- Always wear a helmet! Most cyclists fatally injured in bicycle accidents sustain injuries to the neck and head. The use of a properly-fitted helmet has been shown to be the most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash. Make wearing bike helmets a habit for everyone in the family (not just the kids).
- Keep it in tune. There’s a reason for the expression “like a well-oiled machine”. Just like cars, bicycles should undergo routine maintenance to ensure that they are in good working order. Be sure to do a tune-up at least once a year, and to check the brakes, gears, wheels, lights, headset, nuts and bolts, and lubricate the drive system.
- Learn the rules of the road. Be sure you understand the bicycle road rules for your province and follow them. Sadly, many cyclists get into collisions each year because they ignore traffic rules. Bicycles are vehicles, and the rider is the driver, meaning we must obey all traffic signs, including stop signs and red lights. Cyclists must look before turning left or right and indicate the turn’s direction by signaling with an extended arm. Be sure to ride in a predictable straight line and never weave in or out of traffic. If a bike lane is available, ride in this lane and always ride with the flow of traffic, rather than against it.
- Be seen. Make sure everyone else on the road can see you.Equip your bike with a working light on both the front and back, as well as a white front reflector and a red rear reflector. Additional reflectors should be placed on the tires. And always wear bright and reflective clothing.
- Be Safe. Avoid wearing headphones when biking on roads, as they may prevent you from hearing important sounds – like a car horn. Keep loose pant legs, bag straps, shoelaces and scarves away from your bike chain so they don’t get caught. Always wear proper footwear, like runners. Never go barefoot, and don’t wear sandals, flip-flops, high heels, or cleats. These won’t help you grip the pedals and could even get caught.
What bicycle safety tips would you add to this list?