If you're looking for a budget-friendly transportation option that allows you to enjoy the warm spring weather, bicycling is a terrific option for the planet and for your health. Bicycling also allows you to get where you want to go without the constraints of traffic and transit schedules.
For all of its positives, cycling — especially in urban settings — can also present risk. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 938 bicyclist fatalities in 2020, accounting for 2.4% of all traffic fatalities that year.
There are technologies, like computer vision, available to transit agencies to make intersections safer and more efficient for vehicles and vulnerable road users like pedestrians and bicyclists. For example, as users enter, travel through, and exit intersections, cities can extend clearance times to accommodate various travelers thus, reducing accidents and increasing pedestrian and cyclist safety.
Safety Tips for Cyclists
The following are tips for bicycle enthusiasts who are ready strap into their pedals and take to the asphalt this spring and summer:
Wear a helmet to reduce risk of injury
Wearing a helmet while cycling can significantly reduce injury and head trauma suffered in accidents. A bicycle helmet should fit snug, remaining level and stable on your head while covering most of the forehead before any adjustments are made. If the helmet moves a lot, it’s too loose and either needs to be tightened with pads or the ring at the back and base of the helmet. If those adjustments still don’t work, you may need a smaller helmet. Ensure a proper fit before you head outside.
Make yourself highly visible
Wearing brightly-colored clothing in fluorescent and neon hues will aid in how visible you will be to drivers during the daytime. If you plan to ride at night, make sure you step-up your high visibility wardrobe to include reflective clothing or special tape to make yourself noticeable in the dark.
Follow the traffic and be alert
Exhibiting a general lack of alertness while on the road is almost certain to spell trouble for a cyclist, so be sure to leave your earbuds or headphones at home and keep your head and eyes moving. You need your ears to hear traffic and your eyes to avoid dangerous situations like potholes, wet leaves, storm grates, railroad tracks, or anything that might cause you to lose control of the bike.
Stay in your lane
Special bike lanes are more common today, all around the world, as cities embrace “sharing the road” with cyclists as a sustainable transit option. When choosing to bike to your destination, it’s definitely in your best interest to remain predictable to motorists by staying in the allotted bike lane and avoid weaving in and out of traffic.
Obey the laws and signal your movements
Just like the laws and rules of the road for motorists operating cars, there are traffic safety laws and signals that cyclists must follow, too. Be safety smart by reviewing the bike laws for your city, or consult a resource like the Bike Law Foundation to brush up on your hand signal knowledge to be confident you’re communicating your intentions clearly to other road users.
By following these guidelines, cyclists can dramatically reduce their risks on the road and safely get to where they need to go.