Bicycling is one of the best ways to get exercise, see the sights and reduce your carbon footprint. However, bicyclists face a host of hazards. They often must share the road with vehicles, and injuries can happen even on a designated path.
The number of deaths from bicycle incidents increased 6% in 2019 and 37% in the last 10 years, from 793 in 2010 to 1,089 in 2019, according to Injury Facts®. Of the 1,089 bicyclist deaths in 2019, 712 involved motor vehicles.
With about 80 million bicyclists sharing the road with motorized vehicles, it is vital bicyclists – and drivers – take some safety precautions.
How Can Drivers Keep Cyclists Safe?
The far hand reach, or Dutch reach, is a simple technique that will stop you and your passengers from opening your vehicle door in front of an oncoming vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian. This works for streets, sidewalks and parking lots.
Cyclists, Check Your Equipment
Always inspect your bike prior to riding.
- The seat should be adjusted to the proper height and locked in place
- Make certain all parts are secure and working properly
- Check that the tires are inflated properly
- Make sure the bike is equipped with reflectors on the rear, front, pedals and spokes
- A horn or bell, a rear-view mirror and a bright headlight also are recommended
Plan to Be Seen
Make certain drivers can see you.
- Wear neon, fluorescent or other bright clothing
- Whenever possible, ride during the day
- If you must ride at night, wear reflective clothing and use flashing lights
Wear a Helmet
Helmets appropriate for bicycling should be worn by everyone – adults and children – on every bike ride regardless of length of the ride. Make certain the helmet is certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Follow these guidelines from NHTSA to properly fit the helmet:
- Adjust sizing pads or fit ring until the helmet is snug
- Position the helmet level on your head, covering the forehead and not tipped backward or forward; this will be about one to two finger widths above the eyebrow
- Adjust the side straps so they form a “V” shape under and slightly in front of your ears
- Center the buckle on the chin strap under your chin
- Buckle and tighten the chin strap until it is snug; no more than one to two fingers should be able to fit between the chin and strap
- When fitted, the helmet should not rock more than 1 inch side to side or front to back on your head
- Watch Fitting a Bicycle Helmet
Follow These Rules of the Road
- Get acquainted with traffic laws; bicyclists must follow the same rules as motorists
- Ride single-file in the direction of traffic
- Remain alert, keep your head up and look around; watch for opening car doors and other hazards
- Use hand signals when turning and use extra care at intersections
- Never hitch onto cars
- Before entering traffic, stop and look left, right, left again and over your shoulder
May is National Bike Month
During National Bike Month, cycling enthusiasts across the country celebrate the many benefits of cycling.
The League of American Bicyclists, which advocates for a "Bicycle Friendly America," sponsors Bike Month each year. The 32-page National Bike Month Guide has everything you need to plan a Bike Month event in your community. The League's Ride Smart program also is a great resource for educational videos, classes, tips and other information about bike safety.