Biking is an environmentally friendly and practical mode of transportation. However, road design generally favors motor vehicles and you need to safely share the space with them.
As a cyclist, you are often vulnerable and have limited protection. As such, you need to take appropriate precautions so each ride is as safe as it can be. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has an abundance of useful tips and advice for bicycle safety.
Making your ride a safe one
When riding on public roads, you should use the bike lane or shoulder if these are available. Here are some other tips and guidance that will help make your rides safer:
- Safe following distance: If you're riding in a traffic lane, you need to follow vehicles at a safe distance. Most often, you should ride with one bike-length of distance for every 5 mph of speed. For example, if you're riding at 15 mph, you should have at least three bike lengths between you and the vehicle ahead.
- Ride single file: According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, bicyclists in a group must ride single file. Vehicles cannot easily or safely pass a group of bicyclists riding side by side and blocking a lane.
- Don't block traffic: If you're riding in a lane of traffic and several cars are lined up behind your bike, pull over and let them pass.
- Avoid sidewalks: Drivers have a hard time seeing fast-moving bicycles on sidewalks. Often, they don't see bikers when pulling out of driveways or alleys.
- Proper passing etiquette: Pass other bicyclists on the left. If you pass on the right, you may not have enough room between the rider and the curb. This could cause an accident.
- Heavy traffic: Ride in the middle of the lane to enhance your visibility to other cars. This way everyone can see you and accommodate you as you maneuver through traffic.
While this list does not include every riding technique, these tips can allow you to share the road with motor vehicles so you can ride with greater confidence, safety and fun.