Now that the nice weather is returning, the streets will again soon be filled with bicyclists who are out to get fresh air and/or get back in shape. Biking is more popular than ever. One study reveals that between 2000 and 2009, the number of bike commuters grew 70% across the entire United States.
Returning to an outdoor lifestyle after enduring a typically frigid New England winter is a special if fleeting experience. As any New Englander knows, a return to the outdoors is something that is treasured and earned with patience and endurance during the many cold, dark days that preceded. You’ll want to ensure that you are safe as you enjoy the return of summer and by observing a few simple tips, you can increase your odds
- Most experts agree that bicyclists should alwayswear a helmet. Your chances of surviving an accident are exponentially increased if you take care to wear a safety helmet. Today, there are many to choose from . You should do some preliminary research before you buy. You should hold your vanity in check. Remember that the helmet that looks best on you may not necessarily be the safest.
- Bike on the road in the same direction as traffic. Bicycles are considered “vehicles” and are usually expected to observe the same traffic controls as cars. This means you need to “stop” at a stop sign, etc.
- Whenever possible, get off the beaten path. You’ll find that the beauty of your surroundings increases proportionally to the decrease in traffic.
- Make sure your bicycle is equippedwith a light, a mirror, a bell and a water bottle. The light will increase your visibility; the mirror will allow you to see vehicles that are approaching your position; the bell will remind those traveling in proximity that you are nearby; and the water will keep you hydrated on those humid New England days.
- Refrain from wearing headphones. You should use all of your senses while biking.
- Be aware that even motorists who make active use of their mirrors still have to contend with blind spots. Avoid finding yourself in an area where a motorist can’t see you.
- Wear bright, reflective clothing and bike in a straight, predictable path. The more steady and visible you are, the less likely you are to be in a collision.
- Don’t become distracted by your phone. Texting or prolonged talking while biking is a recipe for disaster.
- Learn and use hand signals. Like driving a car, you want to “telegraph” what your intentions are before you actually turn.
- Make sure your bicycle is in good repair. It is wise to have your bike “tuned up” at the end of the biking season to make sure that everything is working as it should.
Observing these simple tips will keep you safe, enhance your biking experience and give you piece of mind.