News | Published August 15, 2012 | Written by Elle Morgan, health writer/communications coordinator

Learning about bicycle safety—the hard way

I was looking for a way to get 60 minutes of exercise into my day and decided that riding my bike to work was the answer. So, I jumped right in! In the span of one month I had experienced three "mishaps" - one requiring a trip to the doctor.

Luckily, one of my co-workers, Dana Marsh, is active in a local cycling club, See Jane Ride. I thought I could use some help. With her wealth of experience, I asked her for a Bicycling Safety 101 list. I thank her for these safety tips:

  • Wear a helmet!
  • Always ride with lights, front and back - like a car with daytime running lights.
  • Keep lights on strobe or flash during the day. Even a light on your backpack is a good idea. If riding in the dark, wear a headlamp over the helmet.
  • Don't ride on the shoulder. You're allowed to ride where the right tire on a car would be on the road. That helps you be seen by vehicles but also gives you space to turn away from traffic should there be an obstacle on the road.
  • Communicate with other bikers, drivers, or walkers. When riding with other bikers, help them understand what's going on with traffic by yelling "car up" for oncoming traffic and "car back" for tailing traffic. When sharing bike paths with walkers, give them a call, "coming up on your left."
  • Use hand signals for turns and stops as well as road obstacles. With drivers, use approved signals for turns, if you know them. At the very least make eye contact at intersections and point in the direction you are going.
  • Obey traffic signals and traffic laws as if you were driving.
  • Use bike paths when available.
  • Be very careful of gravel (that was my first wreck), wet grass, (that was my second), and trees (that was my third).