Bicycling continues to be a popular form of transportation, exercise, and a leisurely activity among individuals of all ages. Despite that fact that bicycles are simple to navigate and easy for most anyone to use, bicyclists are at risk of being injured in an accident while on the road. Bicycles are viewed as vehicles and under law have the same rights and responsibilities as fellow motorists on the roads.
While giving bicyclists equal responsibilities and rights makes Australia more “bicycle friendly”, bicyclists are naturally more vulnerable to being involved in an accident due to the lack of protection and the fact they are often less visible than other vehicles. Here are some tips to increase your safety as a cyclist:
Visibility in What You Wear
For cyclists, helmet use can be the one thing that prevents a serious injury or even death. Colliding with another cyclist, hitting a loose section of gravel on a roadway, or being struck by a vehicle, may result in a serious personal injury (even when wearing a helmet), but a helmet can greatly decrease the chance of a traumatic brain injury. Since helmet use is required in Australia, law abiding bicyclists may be safer, however, a helmet will not make you more visible.
Visibility is crucial to your safety on the roads during the day and nighttime hours and as a result, wear bright coloured clothingduring the day and reflective clothing at night. If you are commuting to work or another event, consider bringing a change of clothes or wear a reflective or brightly coloured vest. If you don’t own reflective or neon coloured clothing, consider wearing a white top.
Don’t Forget Hand Signals
Although bicycles are technically a vehicle, they are not supplied with turn indicators. Bicycle crash statistics reveal that approximately 61% of accidents occur at an intersection. One of the most effective ways to avoid a potential collision at an intersection is to indicate your intentions (turning right, left, or stopping) by using hand signals. Hand signals are also helpful when riding with other cyclists and even if there are no other cars nearby, make hand signals a habit. While most people understand universal hand signals, it’s important to look around you before making a turn.
To be a safer cyclist it’s important to follow the rules of the road and learn to ride defensively. Never assume that other motorists will see you. Even if you wear brightly coloured coloring and make your intentions known by using hand signals, making eye contact with drivers, and even putting proper lights on your bicycle, keep in mind that drivers are preoccupied and distracted and many are not on the lookout for bicyclists.
Know Your Bicycle
Just like your car, your bicycle needs maintenance from time to time to stay in good working condition. Before you ride, always check your tire pressure, the brakes, and the overall components of your bicycle. Additionally, know how to change a flat tire and be prepared for any roadside emergencies.