Quick Tip: 10 ways to avoid becoming an accident statistic

How To


Whether in the city or way off the beaten path, follow these rules to make your cycling safer.

Generally speaking, riding bikes is good for you. It’s fun, healthy, and reduces pollution. But cycling can also be dangerous. According to recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 50,000 cyclists are injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes and there are over 600 cycling-related deaths in the U.S. per year. So how can you protect yourself? Heed these 10 tips for safer cycling.

1. Wear a helmet:
According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, over 70 percent of cycling-related fatalities involve riders who were not wearing a helmet.

2. Be cautious when approaching intersections:
As the advocacy group Bikes Belong reports, a third of cycling fatalities occur at or near intersections.

3. Use paths of safety:
Off-road paths, on-road marked bike lanes, and on-road bike routes are where bicyclists are most safe.

4. Pay attention:
Always keep your eyes and ears open for what’s going on around you and be ready for car doors, loose dogs, or lost drivers who might dart into your path at any moment.

5. Follow the rules:
Many cyclists may not want to hear it, but the best way to stay safe on the road is to follow the rules. Stop at lights and signals, signal your turns, and don’t weave in and out of traffic.

6. Be seen:
You don’t have to dress in full neon to go for a simple bike ride, but do what you can to help people see you. Reflective clothing and blinky lights are always a good idea, and in some places mandatory.

7. Assume drivers don’t see you:
Even with lights and reflective gear from head to toe, drivers sometimes will still fail to see you. Always be ready in case drivers try to pass too close, cut you off, or turn across your path.

8. Avoid blind spots:
Even in the safest cycling cities, cyclists get into trouble when they ride or wait at intersections in the blind spot of vehicles, especially trucks and buses. Never stop and wait between a truck/bus and the curb at a red light. If they make a right turn, you’re in trouble. Instead, wait behind them.

9. Avoid distractions:
Everyone hates the texting driver (or cyclist). Resist the urge to listen to tunes, answer a call, or text your while you are riding. Full attention on the road in mandatory no matter what kind of vehicle you’re piloting.

10. Stay off sidewalks:
A surprising percentage of car/bike crashes occur when turning drivers run into cyclists coming off a sidewalk because they don’t see you or you are going faster than they expect.

What are some of your tips to stay safe on the road?

About the author: RoadBikeReview

RoadBikeReview.com is an online community of cyclists who share a passion for the sport. Visitors of the site regularly purchase gear to upgrade their bikes, share inspiring photos of rides, and keep up to date with the latest industry and technology news. Which products perform best? Where to buy them? Where to ride? How to ride better? Cyclists come to RoadBikeReview.com for the answers.

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  • Jon says:

    Agree with everything except about staying off sidewalks.They are safer than roads,where there is a lot of traffic and the outside lane is right up against the curb.For roads with no space along side the outside lane,i will ride the sidewalk if few pedestrians and a lot of car traffic.

  • Arnie says:

    I agree with riding on sidewalks. It’s the safest place in most areas as most people are in their cars. I’ve been hit by cars twice on the road but never on the sidewalk. I use an old fashioned bell when approaching pedestrians and most of them thank me for the bell.

  • Zed says:

    Jon, don’t mistake your perception of safety for the actual risk of getting hit by a car. Your chance of getting rear-ended in the lane is generally less than the chance of getting hit on a sidewalk by a vehicle turning at a driveway. This is especially true if you are riding against traffic on the sidewalk.

  • John says:

    Zed is right.

    if you look at the statistics, it’s pretty astounding the much higher number of accidents between cars and bikes coming from sidewalks. The danger is in where car path (driveways, intersections, etc…) cross the sidewalk. A car drive is fixated on where the cars will be and is not looking for a high speed vehicle in those area. IIRC, the number is something like 22X more likely to be in an accident in one of those road/sidewalk intersections than you are on the road. It’s not even close.

    Then there is the issue of pedestrian entablement with a cyclist. A pedestrian is not expecting a cyclist nor the speeds at which a cyclist moves. Also, we (as humans) don’t tend to hear exceptionally well behind us. It’s just not a great deal to have pedestrians and cyclists in close proximity.


  • Joe says:

    The comments previous to mine all have a vaild point. But in my practice I do not shy away from using the sidewalk especially near my area in which road space seems to be at a premium hence they got rid of the shoulders. I use the sidewalks when vehicular traffic is high (normally between 8am – 6pm) and do not when it’s an early morning or a late evening spin. But I make sure that whenever I’m using the sidewalk I revert to a “Boardwalk-style” speed, that is I bring down my speed to about 8-10mph and looking out for potential things that can surprise and gets me into a mishap.

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