This past weekend I saw my first scary cycling situation.
While I didn’t see the crash itself, we rolled up onto a young man who was a friend of a rider in our group who had apparently hit some gravel, somehow lost control of his bike and ended up in pretty bad shape. We immediately hopped off our bikes, and started making the necessary calls, slowing traffic, waiting for the ambulance, etc. Thankfully he was ok, but the scary, and bloody, scene was enough of a reminder about the importance of cycling safety.
While there are plenty of people and sites that can provide much more extensive safety information, here are my cycling safety 101 tips that were helpful when I started cycling:
- Helmets: Seems like a no brainer, right? I can’t tell you how many time I’ve seen what might be the dumbest people on the planet riding without a helmet. I don’t care who you are, how experienced you may be, or even the fact that you are on a “regular” bike, wear your MOTHER FREAKING HELMET. There is no arguing this as there is absolutely no exception in which you should not wear your helmet. Oh, and if you’re one of those parents who makes their children wear their helmets, but somehow, you’ve been given the mysterious power of invincibility, I thoroughly question your decision making ability. Be a role model, will ya?
- Follow Traffic Laws: Look ma! I’m smaller, I can weave in and out of cars and by-golly, it takes far too much energy to brake at stop signs. <– Don’t be that guy. If you want respect on the road, respect the road laws and ride with traffic, not against it. Outside of your own safety, cops will ticket your sorry butt for rolling through that stop sign and cutting off everyone else.
- Ride One or Two Across: Trust me, I like to gab while riding like the best of them, and on wide open roads, I’ve ridden more than two across. But anywhere else, ride in a single file line, or only if the bike line is wide enough, ride two across.
- Don’t Wear Headphones: I know, those long training rides seem daunting with no musical mojo to keep you going. But just leave your headphones at home. It’s incredibly unsafe, and you can just consider it mental training. Plus, you’re not allowed to wear them during races anyway.
- Be a Team Player: Us runners and cyclists, we need to stick together and be respectful to one another. To do so, there are a couple of ways that you can help your fellow cyclist as you are riding:
- Use hand signals if you’re turning or stopping:
- Call out cars: say “CAR BACK” if there is a car coming from behind you, or “CAR UP” if there is one coming toward you.
- Call out glass: If you see glass, or start to pass it, simply shout “GLASS!” so other can know to avoid it.
- Passing: If you are going to approach someone, do so on the left. However, go above and beyond and politely say “On your left” as you pass. Nothing is scarier than being completely surprise by someone zooming past you.
- Signal debris: If you pass something that another cyclist behind you should be aware of, just shake your hand on the side that the debris is on.
Like mentioned above, these are just a few of the many, many ways the way to stay safe of the bike. But please apply these and share your cycling safety 101 tips below.
Happy Running (and cycling)!