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How to Make Your Bike Commute Safer

Jul 21, 2008
There's one big problem with using a bicycle to run errands and go to work; it can be dangerous. Car drivers are often not that careful and you have minimal protection. Take these steps to protect yourself as you ride.

1. Keep your bicycle in good condition.

Regular tuneups aren't just for cars. They do bikes a lot of good too. Keep your tires inflated and your brakes in good condition. Bicycles are simple enough that you may be inclined to learn how to do a tuneup on your own, or you can take it a couple times a year to the bike shop. How often you go will depend on how much you ride your bike.

2. Use appropriate safety gear.

Never, ever forget your helmet, and remember that other safety gear can help too. But that helmet is vital! Bicycle helmets have saved many lives.

If you ride after dark or even just at dawn, dusk or cloudy days, have appropriate lights and reflectors on your bicycle. These can make you more visible to cars even when conditions aren't perfect.

3. Remember that car drivers often don't think about bike riders.

Sure, they're supposed to. But too many don't. It can help to avoid busy roads as much as possible, and to be particularly alert around driveways, corners and parked cars.

It's particularly easy for a bicycle rider to hit an opening car door. It's best if you approach a parked car from far enough out that they have a good chance to see you, you have to dodge only a little if a door does open, yet close enough in that you aren't at risk from cars driving by. Not everyone checks when they open a car door along a street, and even if they do, a rider coming up from right behind the car may not have been visible in time.

Cars that are turning can be particularly dangerous. If they turn right, they may use the bike lane to get past other cars. If you're passing in front of a driveway there may be cars pulling out and turning that aren't aware of you. If you don't think a car sees you, do your best to keep it from hitting you.

4. Remember the laws you need to follow too.

People driving in cars aren't the only ones who fail to follow the rules of the road. Bicyclists can too. Try to not be in such a rush that you do unsafe things. You're in more danger from cars than they are from you.

5. Don't hug the curb.

It feels safer, but it's not. Riding too close to the curb makes you less visible to many drivers.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster runs http://www.findbicyclesonline.com/ for people who are looking to save on gas and take a bike to work, or just ride a bike for leisure. Find bicycle helmets and more at her site.
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