There are a lot of great reasons to ride a bicycle. Whether you’re young or old, riding a bike can be a great experience, as well as provide you with safe and reliable transportation. Making sure your bike remains a safe method of travel involves more than simply wearing a helmet and following the rules of the road. To ride smart, you need to have a plan, a plan to be safe.

Child and Adult Bike Safety

To a large extent, children rely on adults to keep them safe while riding bikes. The adult should always assess the situation and ensure that the child is going to be as safe as possible with regards to where, when and how a child is going to ride.

Bike helmets are the standard now, especially for children, and in many places it’s the law. Besides helmets, you can also provide the child with elbow and kneepads, among other protective gear. However, with children you also have to include the critical thought processes for safe riding. Without proper guidance (hard set rules), a child may decide to ride in traffic or some other unsafe act; they are, after all, children.

Based on the age and skill of the child, set the parameters for his or her activities and monitor what they do and how well they follow your instructions. Adjust accordingly.

Adult bike riders sometimes create their own problems by underestimating their skills or how they assume others will act as they share the road with motorized vehicles. During a mix-up between a bicycle and a vehicle, the bicycle will lose even when the rider is morally and legally right. Don’t allow yourself to be “dead right” when it comes to riding your bike on the roadway.

Be Visible

When riding, wear clothing that offers protection and can be easily seen. Bright or light clothing, especially with reflector strips sewn into the fabric, helps a driver see you in time to avoid running into you. You should have front and rear reflectors on your bike, and you absolutely need to have a headlight and a taillight on your bicycle for riding after dark. You have to make sure drivers see you AND know what you’re doing. Use signals before turning or changing lanes. 

See Everything

Try to see where drivers are looking, and never assume they see you; ride like you are invisible. Try to make eye contact at intersections and ensure that a vehicle in your danger zone knows you’re there. A light mounted to your helmet can help alert drivers to your presence, especially at night, when you shine it in their direction.

Avoid vehicle blind spots. Watch for vehicles that may turn across your path, or into your path as they pass you.  Stay as far to the left as you can without being in the traffic if there are parked cars in order to avoid hitting a door suddenly opened in front of you.

Follow Traffic Laws

Ride with traffic and follow the rules of the road as if you’re driving a vehicle. The exception is you may need to surrender a legal move in order to avoid an illegal one from a vehicle. Should this happen, don’t get overly angry or make rude gestures at drivers. Remember, even if you’re right, a bike is no match for a vehicle in a physical confrontation. If possible, pull off the road and report any aggressive drivers that have endangered you while riding. Ride with a purpose and have a plan to be safe.