Bicycle Safety Tips
- Collision with a car or another bicycle
Loss of control because of a number of factors, including:
- Difficulty in braking
- Riding too large a bike
- Riding too fast
- Riding double
- Striking a rut, bump, or obstacle
- Riding on slippery surfaces
- Attempting to do stunts
Mechanical and structural problems including:
- Brake failure
- Wobbling or disengagement of the wheel or steering mechanism
- Difficulty shifting gears
- Chain slippage
- Pedals falling off
- Spoke breakage
- Flat tire
- Entanglement of feet, hands, or clothing in the bicycle
- Foot slippage from pedal
- Difficulty getting out of clips or toe cages
Selecting the Bicycle
- If you are buying a bicycle for a child, choose one to fit the child's size today. Most bicycles can be adjusted as your child grows.
- A bicycle should suit the rider's ability and kind of riding.
- Check hand and foot brakes for fast, easy stops without instability or jamming.
- Avoid slippery plastic pedals. Look instead for rubber-treated pedals, or metal pedals with serrated rat-trap edges or with firmly attached toe clips.
- Make sure the bike fits your body. Ask for professional help if you are not sure how to choose the proper size and type of a bike.
Using the Bicycle
- Always wear a helmet to help prevent head injuries.
- Never use just your front (right) brake, it may cause you to flip over the handle bars.
- Observe all traffic laws and signals, just as if you were driving a car.
- Do not attempt stunts.
- Learn about the specific laws for bicyclists in your state. In the United States, bicycles are considered vehicles and have all the same rights and responsibilities as other motorists.
- Find alternate routes, rather than ride through busy intersections and heavy or high-speed traffic. Especially, avoid roads with high truck traffic.
- Avoid riding in wet or icy weather. When wet, hand brakes may require a long distance to stop.
- Avoid riding in the dark. If you do, be sure the bike is equipped with a headlight, a taillight, and reflectors. Apply retro-reflective trim to clothing or wear reflective vests and jackets. Flashing lights may give you extra visibility.
- Avoid loose clothing or long coats that can catch in pedals, gears, or wheels. Use leg clips or bands to keep pant legs from tangling in the chain.
- Avoid crossing raised sewer grates.
- Dress appropriately for the weather.
- Avoid eating large meals prior to biking. Have a high-calorie snack with you, especially when planning long rides, to prevent hypoglycemia.
- Always have a bottle of water with you.
- Carry a cell phone with you. You never know when you may need it.
- Have some basic bicycle repair tools with you.
- Do not impair your hearing with headphones or earbuds.
Maintaining the Bicycle
- Align wobbly wheels for better control. Spokes also may need adjustment.
- Replace all missing, damaged, or worn parts. Examples include: brake pads, chain guards, chain links, spokes, screws, bolts, and handlebar grips.
- Tighten and/or adjust loose parts.
- Before each ride, inspect breaks, tires, frame, fork, spindles, and other components for cracking.
- Parts should be adjusted to manufacturer's torque specifications.
- Inflate tires to recommended pressure, and replace worn tires.
- Lightly oil and clean moving parts. Keep oil off rubber.
- Keep your bicycle indoors when not in use. Moisture may cause rust and weaken metal parts.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center http://www.bicyclinginfo.org
League of American Bicyclists http://www.bikeleague.org
Canada's Safety Council http://www.safety-council.org/
Recreational Safety Government of Canada http://www.safecanada.ca
Head injuries and bicycle safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/ToolsTemplates/EntertainmentEd/Tips/HeadInjuries.html. Updated March 18, 2013. Accessed January 15, 2014.
Kids and bicycle safety. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. Available at: http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/bike/kidsandbikesafetyweb/index.htm. Accessed January 15, 2014.
State Bike Laws. The League of American Bicyclists. Available at: http://www.bikeleague.org/content/state-bike-laws-0. Accessed January 15, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 01/2014 -
- Update Date: 00/11/2014 -