How to ride a bicycle safely on the road – In any accident involving a cycle and a car, regardless of who is at fault, the cyclist suffers the most. Therefore, it is in the cyclist’s own interest to be very careful while riding and when being overtaken by vehicles.
Tips on how to ride a bicycle safely on the road !
Be careful on roads under repair and pieces of stones or other items lying on the road.
Be watchful of pedestrians, pets or stray animals suddenly coming onto the road to cross it. Be careful of motorists trying to jump a traffic signal, and a bus or truck making a wide turn, etc.
Keep an eye on the traffic around you, and adopt all the safety measures, some of which are listed below.
Children and learners should not ride on the main road until sufficiently experienced.
Since over two-thirds of the accidents occur at intersections, turns, etc. signal your intention at least 30 meters before turning and carefully observing the traffic signals and signals of other vehicles are very important for safe riding.
The cycle should be of the right size, neither too small nor too big. A wrong size can cause discomfort and may not be easy to handle and control efficiently.
For riding comfort, safety and longevity of the bicycle, it should be properly maintained.
This basically means:
Keeping the tyres inflated to the correct pressure.
Adjusting the brake shoes to be within 3 mm of the rim and ensuring that they are in good shape;
Oiling and greasing the components as recommended;
If you ride the bike a lot, and specially over long stretches of roads where there are no repair shops, learn how to do simple repairs such as mending a puncture etc. Carry essential repair tools in a bag, including a small air pump.
A bicycle should have the following accessories for safety: headlight, rear light, horn and bell, rear-view mirror, front and rear reflectors, pedal reflectors, spoke reflectors.
Wearing reflector armbands and leg bands makes a cyclist more visible to other vehicle drivers on the road at night. Even if the law does not require it, one should always wear a helmet, especially if there is a lot of traffic on the road.
Reflector strips on the helmet make for better visibility.
Be careful of traffic on blind curves.
On the road, a bicycle is a vehicle and not a toy. Therefore, do not ride it in a reckless fashion or race with others.
Do not cycle holding it with one hand, or without holding the handle bar, even on a road with light traffic. You may be thrown off the cycle and you can get hurt badly.
Do not wear any ear plugs or headsets in your ears. This would hinder your hearing traffic noise and horn sounded by another vehicle.
Whilst cycling, do not carry load, or a small child in your lap or on your shoulder. This would be unsafe for you, the child, as well as other road users.
If an extra person is to ride, there should be a carrier at the back. Ensure that the passenger’s foot does not get caught in the moving spokes. Install a barrier between the rear wheel and the child’s leg.
For small articles, books, etc. have a basket or a carrier or both so that your hands are free.
Watch out for items and clothes that dangle. They may get into the spokes. This includes purses, bags, sarees and the lower end of wide trousers or pajama legs.
Use less-travelled roads and plan you itinerary thoughtfully. Do not cycle on highways where the traffic moves fast. It is very unsafe, unless bicycle lanes exist separately.
It may be unlawful to cycle on pavements and pedestrian pathways. You may hit someone and both may be injured.
While riding in a cycle lane be on the lookout for cars backing out, children rushing out of houses, etc. Take extra precautions when coming onto the main road from the cycle lane.
On the road, ride as close to the sidewalk as is possible, not in the middle of the road where the traffic moves at a higher speed.
Do not ride very close to parked cars. You could be pushed off your cycle by a car door suddenly opening.
Motorists have blind spots in the rear corners where other vehicles are often not visible in the rear-view mirror. Do not ride in these blind spots.
Fast moving buses and trucks cause air turbulence which can unsettle a cyclist. Stay at a safe distance from such vehicles.
If several people are cycling together, form a single file so as not to obstruct the traffic. This will also minimize the chances of any accident.
Watch a video clip of the streets of Istanbul Turkey
At night, do not look directly at the headlights of the vehicles approaching you. This could interfere with your vision and blind you temporarily, and you may not be able to spot pot-holes, pedestrians crossing the road, etc.
If the road is covered with loose gravel, sand, or fallen leaves then get down and walk with your bike since riding is not easy under such conditions.
Avoid pot-holes and broken manholes. These can cause damage to the bike and may also result in the rider falling down.
Since dogs have a habit of chasing cyclists and it is often difficult to pedal fast enough to move out of the harm’s way due to the traffic, it is best to get down and walk slowly past a dog. If possible, walk with the bike between yourself and the dog.
Never ride a bicycle in the wrong lane or on the wrong side of the road.