Staying Safe On Your Next Bike Ride
Bicycling is a healthy, environmentally friendly, and affordable way to get around. You can ride your bike to the grocery store, or to take in scenic mountain or coastal views. In honor of National Bike Month, here are some tips on getting around on your bike safely.
First things first, you need to know a few bike safety rules before hitting the road on your bike. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and The American League of Bicyclists, here’s what you need to know:
- Make sure everything works. Remember “A, B, C”. A is for Air. B is for Brakes. C is for cranks and chain. Check your bike for flat tires, unresponsive brakes, loose chains, or missing lights or reflectors.
- Wear a helmet. Always wear a helmet when riding your bike, even if you’re only going for a short ride down the block. Helmets help protect you from head injuries and possibly death. Ensure that your helmet fits snugly on your head and allows sufficient visibility. California law requires cyclists under the age of 18 to wear a helmet.
- Obey the rules of the road. Bicyclists must observe the same rules as motorists. Stop at stop signs and red lights. Ride in a bike lane when possible or close to the curb. Stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Check for car and bike traffic as well as pedestrians. Be mindful of other cyclists before changing lanes. Watch for road hazards such as potholes and broken glass. Avoid distractions like using your phone or listening to music.
- Hand signals for Bikes. Use hand signals before stopping, turning or changing lanes. Signals communicate your intentions to motorists and other cyclists. Allow plenty of time to signal before changing lanes and make eye contact with motorists as you deliver clear hand signals.
- Ensure visibility at night. California law requires that bikes must have lights and reflectors for night riding. Wearing reflective and light-colored clothing also increases your visibility, and increases your safety during a night ride. Young riders should avoid riding at night.
To ensure your young riders have fun and stay safe while riding their bikes, see the Kids and Bicycle Safety tips from NHTSA. The San Diego Bike Coalition is holding free 75-minute virtual Basic Bike Skills Classes to help you get comfortable on the road.
Now that you are familiar with bike safety rules, you can plan your ride. There are numerous resources for bike routes in our region, and here are a few to check out:
- iCommute offers a free interactive Bike Map of the region. It shows street, imagery or topographic views. It also tells you where you’ll encounter rail lines or steep hills.
- Apps like Map My Ride and MTB Project provide routes for road and mountain trails.
- The San Diego Bike Coalition also has great resources for Getting Around by Bike.
National Bike Month Activities
Bike to Work Day and Bike Week have been postponed but May is still National Bike Month. The focus is on well-being and connection. iCommute is holding a Bike to Work webinar on May 14th and virtual employer bike services. San Diego County Bicycle Coalition and Love to Ride are hosting a Bike Month Challenge.
Whether you’re cycling with friends or riding solo, we hope you have fun, stay safe, and feel connected to the world around us.