Staying healthy and possibly losing some weight by cycling is great, but not if it comes at the expense of your safety. Below we focus on the best bicycle safety tips.
Awareness is your secret to safety on the bike.
It’s important to understand changing road conditions, other cyclists, car drivers and their rights and requirements. Never second guess another person’s movements.
Think about taking some classes if you haven’t cycled for a while.
Otherwise, warm up on a peaceful, flat terrain before heading onto the open road or routes if you’re not well-informed about your bike.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best bicycle safety tips: Watch out for dangerous road surfaces
- 2 Best bicycle safety tips for cycling in traffic
- 3 Best bicycle safety tips for cycling in the dark
Best bicycle safety tips: Watch out for dangerous road surfaces
There are specific techniques to deal with different road surfaces and riding conditions.
Cobblestones still play a role in many cities and villages.
Before you start cycling on a short cobblestone strip, follow these steps:
- Raise yourself out of the saddle
- Stop pedaling
- Keep your weight back and let the flex on your legs and arms soak up the bumps
For longer cobblestone roads, sit well back in the saddle and keep pedaling hard.
In the rain, cobblestones can be very slippery and particularly dangerous.
Make sure to take corners very slowly when riding on wet cobbles.
Slippery when wet
Wet conditions make almost all surfaces slippery, especially roads after a long period of dry weather.
Oil spillages from traffic build up when it’s dry, and the very first rain can make roadway surfaces ice-like.
Look out for the significant rainbow effect of oil on water, and avoid riding through it with your bike.
Avoid puddles, considering that they can conceal potholes. Lastly, never ever ride on icy roads.
Dangerous streetcar tracks
Tramlines are best prevented since you’ll crash if your wheel gets stuck in a streetcar track.
But what if there is no other way and you are obligated to cross them? Then try to do so with some speed and at a 90° angle.
Road markings with a thick coat of paint
Painted road markings can also get very slippery in wet conditions so avoid riding over them if possible.
If you have no other option, ride over them slowly and try to approach them at a 90° angle if you can.
Of course, combining both tips (slow + an angle of +/- 90°) is the safest way.
Best bicycle safety tips for cycling in traffic
Before venturing into traffic, make sure you can steer your bike at slow speeds without wobbling.
Also, make sure that you can easily look behind you while cycling in a straight line.
Practice these skills on quiet, peaceful roadways.
Ride your bike with attention and respect to other roadway users. But don’t be undecided.
Never ever assume what other roadway users will do.
Keep the following crucial safety points in mind when riding your bicycle in traffic:
Start off in a safe way
Before you set off, look over your shoulder to check the traffic conditions behind you.
As soon as there is a gap in the traffic large enough for you to fit in, show with a hand signal that you plan to set off, then move into the traffic.
When setting off, use a low gear. There can be a tendency to wobble when using a high gear to set off.
Have eyes on your back
Before you make any change in direction, check the traffic behind you. Basically, do this in any case.
Indicate with your arms
Signal each time you maneuver. Look behind, decide what speed you will need to make the maneuver securely, then brake well before you indicate.
If it’s safe to go, make your signal but be clear and confident (extend your arm and point with your finger).
Check behind you again, and if it’s still safe to do so, make your maneuver.
Always be aware of your surroundings
When you’re riding along in traffic, keep looking at what is happening around you.
Search for blinkers on vehicles and observe car and truck drivers waiting at roads to pull out.
If they are not looking at you, be careful and get ready to brake. Always try to make eye contact to decide whether they noticed you or not.
Ride your bike at a constant speed so not too slow and definitely not too quick (although a bit of speed can help to keep you balanced).
Keep your fingers on the brakes
Keep two or three fingers on your brake levers on a hybrid or mountain bike (so you’re ready to brake at any time).
On a road bike, ride with your hands on top of the brake hoods to ensure you don’t have to reach far to brake.
If you have to slow down or stop, shift to a low gear. That way, you will be ready to set off once again.
Maintain a safe distance: Best bicycle safety tips
Offer the car in front of you space to stop when you are both traveling at the exact same speed.
However, do not drop too far back, or you’ll be overtaken. Likewise, do not go all out just to keep up.
Instead, allow yourself to be passed when you’re holding back the traffic.
You can do this safely by making some space and showily waving your arm to the traffic behind you.
By doing this, you show it’s safe for them to pass you. You’re expecting them to do so and won’t get a fright when they come up next to you.
This also allows the traffic to move more smoothly as you let the drivers know that they have enough space and time to do so.
You’re also effectively saying that you won’t make any sudden movements to block them from passing you by.
Stick to a healthy diet
Make sure to eat and drink properly in order to avoid energy dips on the bike.
Read more detailed information about this topic on Cycling diet and nutrition tips for weight loss.
Invest in solid equipment: Best bicycle safety tips
A heavy-duty bike with sufficient weight carrying capacity and a sturdy frame can be an excellent investment to increase your safety in traffic.
Read more about the frequently asked question Do bicycles have a weight limit? if you are serious about safety on your bike.
Interested in buying a nice model? Have a look at the following list of heavy-duty bikes for plus-size men.
Best bicycle safety tips for cycling in the dark
We don’t advise you to cycle and exercise in the dark. Still, you must take every step to make yourself as visible as possible if you have to cycle at night.
In many states and nations, you are required by law to have rear and front lights.
But to be truly safe, consider switching to LED lights instead of conventional bike lights and also attach clipping flashing LEDs to your clothing.
Use clothes with reflective strips, especially on your legs, and reflectors that fit your spokes.
Even a high-visibility fluorescent jacket is highly recommended. Don’t worry about your looks!
The most important thing is you are seen! By the way, training on a dark road is very dangerous.
We highly recommend you to train indoors if you live in the countryside and can’t ride your bike during the day.
Industrial areas in cities and towns have broad, well-lit, and less trafficked roads, especially after working hours. They are well-suited for training sessions.