As our blog discusses in nearly every post, there are many risks associated with cycling. For most people, the health benefits and enjoyment they receive from cycling far outweigh the possible dangers—and by taking the right safety precautions, cyclists greatly reduce their risk of injury.
While this list is not meant to be all-inclusive, the following suggestions are considered a basic introduction to bicycle safety.
Follow the rules of the road
One of the easiest ways you can protect yourself while cycling is to obey all traffic laws and observe the rules of the road. As a cyclist in the state of Utah, you are required to obey all traffic signs and lane markers. Do not ignore or disregard signs and signals that were created for your safety. Ride in bicycle lanes wherever available, and always ride with the flow of traffic. It is extremely dangerous to ride against traffic, as motorists do not expect to see a cyclist riding toward them. Be hyper-aware of your surroundings during times of heaving traffic.
Dress to be seen
Cyclists are often difficult for motorists to spot, particularly at night. If a driver does not see you, they will not know to slow down or to allow you to pass them. Wear brightly-colored clothing that is also reflective, and never wear dark clothing at night. Make sure your bike is equipped with reflectors, and give drivers extra time to react during poor weather conditions when visibility is lower.
Use hand signals
While on your bike, hand signals are your only way of communicating your intentions to the motorists around you. Use the correct hand signals, and use them far enough in advance for motorists to see and react to them. Do not try to change lanes or cut across traffic without giving a heads up to the other drivers around you—a few seconds is all it takes. Whenever possible, make eye contact with drivers before changing positions on the road. Eye contact helps both parties be more aware of the situation, and it may help remind drivers that you are a real person, not just a bike!
Do not use headphones while cycling
As a cyclist, you are considered a moving vehicle in the state of Utah. As a moving vehicle, you need to be able to hear what is going on around you. Never cycle (0r operate any vehicle) while using headphones. If you are listening to your music, you will not be able to hear ambient noises around you. Traffic patterns and emergency vehicle locations change in an instant, and your ears will be the first to notice these changes—especially when the changes are happening behind you.
Wear your helmet
Even if you are just cycling down the street or to the grocery store, wear your helmet. There is a never a cycling situation that does not call for a helmet, as accidents can happen on rides of any length. Whether you are riding in a 100-mile race or the 1/10-mile distance to the mailbox, recognize that your brain is the most important part of your body.
Be cautious when passing on the right
When you pass on the right, be aware that you are often in a motorist’s blind spot. Utah law allows cyclists to use the road’s shoulder to pass on the right, but make sure you are doing so safely. Motorists may not expect you to pass on the right, and if they cannot see you, you are put in an extremely dangerous position. Exercise severe caution when passing motorists.