Cycling is great/bonza/tops/lush/’tastic/wicked/well good. If you’re reading this, you probably agree but let’s just revel in it for a moment. It’s keeps you fit, is green and clean, and gives you a healthy shot of adrenalin meaning your brain is firing at full tilt at the end of a ride. And mmmn, endorphins.
That being said, there are a plethora of hazards that come with cycling, especially in busy urban areas. In Australia, cycling accidents are on the rise and the majority of these happen during morning and afternoon rush hours.
Here are some tips to help not get dead. Read on…
1. Protect your noggin
Helmets are the most important piece of cycling safety equipment – they don’t cost much, and they could save your life.
You’ll want to make sure your ears sit in the middle of the V shape of the straps, the front of the helmet sits two fingers width above your eyebrows, and just one finger can fit between your chin and the strap when the strap is done up. Ask a shop attendant for help if you’re unsure about fitting.
2. Wear reflective clothing
It’s a good idea to optimise visibility when cycling. Wearing a reflective vest or backpack is a better look than being smeared across the road because a driver didn’t see you. This is especially important in rural areas, at night, and times of low visibility (fog, rain, snow).
If you don’t want to walk around all day with a reflective backpack, you can get a backpack cover to just use while cycling.
3. Get lit
You want people to see your fresh new wheels, right? You also want them to see you, especially at night. Cyclists should also have front and rear bike lights when cycling at night or when visibility is poor.
Some lights are designed to help you be seen by other road users, and some are designed to help you see where you’re going (headlights). This isn’t an ad. We don’t care if you buy Knog lights, JUST BUY LIGHTS!
4. Kit your bike out with safety gear
There’s a whole heap of equipment that can be fitted to your bike. Some useful items are:
- Pedal reflectors to enhance visibility.
- Bells to warn pedestrians.
- Pump and tool.
- Clip/strap in pedals if you’re using cycle cleats.
- Rear-view mirrors.
- Chain guards.
- First aid kit. These are easy to lug around, and you can be the hero if someone gets hurt.
5. Wear the right gear
Along with visible clothes, you should be wearing covered shoes and clothing that won’t catch onto the chain or other parts of the bike. Tuck your shoelaces in as well, and wear waterproof clothing in bad weather.
6. Bring your phone
When shit hits the fan, having a phone with you can get you out of some serious strife. Plus, it’s a good way to get in contact with emergency services if you or someone else gets in trouble.
7. Check yo’self
Before going out on your bike, make sure you do a pre-start check. Ensure your tyres, chain, brakes, lights, spokes, and pedals are all working. If you need a hand, then ask a mate or your friendly local bike mechanic for assistance.
8. Cycle with your mates
Cycle in groups when possible. You’ll be more visible as a pack of cyclists, and you’ll have friends around who can look after you if you’re new to cycling.
9. Maintain your bike/gear
Keep your bike looking and feeling the business. Bikes need to be serviced and maintained every few months. If you’re not sure what’s up, ask your new bff the bike mechanic.
10. Learn the rules
Some simple road safety advice is to learn and follow the road rules.
Often accidents happen because people don’t know how to respond in situations involving cyclists and cars. Road rules are safety guidelines for motorists and cyclists alike, so learn them and follow them before heading out onto the road.
Sofia Lockett is a freelance writer from New Zealand, with a passion for health and fitness. Sofia has written for numerous lifestyle and fitness sites such as Industrial Athletic.