(With apologies to Isaac Asimov)
Bike safety is a big topic. There are so many situations that I find it easier to think about the general principles of what bike safety looks like, as I’ve thought about it on many rides.
I will just present my 4 Laws here with a few examples to illustrate them. In later posts, I’ll talk about how they may be applied in particular situations.
1. Be Predictable
- Look first, then signal well in advance of changing lanes, turning, or stopping.
- If you are changing lanes, you must yield to traffic in the lane you are moving into.
- Obey the laws (observe stop lights and stop signs, never ride against traffic).
- Ride in the best lane for where you are going (i.e. if the right-most lane is marked for right turn only, don’t ride in that lane if you are going straight).
2. See and Be Seen
Be proactive in spotting potential safety issues (drivers in parked cars about to open their door, pedestrians who don’t hear you on the sidewalk about to cross in front of you, potholes and other obstacles in your lane).
Make yourself as visible as possible (stand up on your pedals when approaching an intersection, or when you think someone might not see you, always have lights and reflectors).
Make eye contact with others whom you share the road with–this is the best way to know that they see you.
3. Ride Friendly
Yes, this is a safety issue, because people act irrationally when upset!
Block as little vehicle traffic as you can safely (ride single file and as far to the side of the road as you can safely).
Acknowledge and thank people who watch out for you.
4. Protect Your Space
Wear a helmet.
Don’t let people attempt to pass you if it will directly endanger you (take the lane where it is appropriate, by riding in the middle of the lane).
Remember there are more obstacles on the outside of the road, such as broken glass, gutter drains, etc. so ride where it is safe.
These are my 4 Laws of Bike Safety. Many studies have shown that the health benefits of biking outweigh possible risks of accidents, but if you ride with these 4 Laws in mind, then you’ll be in extra good shape!