Bike riding is a popular, enjoyable, inexpensive, and spectacular way to stay in good shape, release stress and get around, especially for those who don’t have driving privileges or live in the downtown area. However, bicycling has its own hazards, and accidents happen. That is why this fun activity should go hand in hand with its safety because a bicyclist shares the road with other vehicles and even minor negligence may result in a lot of avoidable mishaps.
For both experienced cyclists and newbies, it’s always good to review the basic bike riding safety guidelines. Listed below are 4 basic bike safety guidelines.
4 Basic Bike Safety Guidelines
Wearing a helmet
The foremost safety measure you should take while cycling is to protect your head by wearing a helmet that fits you correctly. The practice of wearing a helmet even for a short trip can reduce the risk of head and neck injuries up to 69%, severe brain injuries by 74% and facial injuries by 65%.
Remember that wearing a helmet is compulsory by law in Ottawa for cyclists under 18. Also note that your helmet must possess a CSA, CPSC, Snell B-95, or N-94 certification sticker. If the helmet is certified it can be used for 3 to 5 years but once it experiences an accident it should immediately be replaced with the new one.
- Is snug and comfortable.
- The straps should make a “V” shape just below your ears.
- The gap between your chin and the strap should not be more than two fingers width.
- It should cover your forehead and never tip back once fastened.
- Must possess reflective stickers to be seen better by other motorists on the road.
- Never wear a hat under the helmet.
Check your equipment
A few simple bike equipment checks can make sure that your bike is safe to ride and precisely adjusted. Get in a habit of checking your bike by “The M check” which barely takes 5 mins. When you start examining the bike from the front wheel, then move up to the handlebars, after that down to the bottom bracket, then back up to the saddle and finally down to the rear wheel. This pattern makes the letter M, therefore, the name M-check. It is a simple, uncomplicated, and non-technical procedure, just methodically follow the letter M and check everything on the way to scan for evident signs of damage.
Main checkpoints are listed below:
Inspect the handlebars by standing over the bike and move them back and forth, there should not be any movement on the grips. Secondly, hold the front wheel between your legs and knees and rotate the handlebars side to side, they shouldn’t turn. Otherwise, tighten the stem bolt securely. Thirdly, ensure that the bars are in line with the fork crown while looking down directly from the bars.
Squeeze both brakes and gear levers to ensure they are working properly without stretching your hands. If you find yourself stretching then fix it by dialing them in and out. Now check the headset (connects the front fork to the frame) when you apply the front brakes. Rock the bike back and forth. There should not be any knocking or movement in the bike.
Chainset and Pedals
First, inspect the chainset and pedals for obvious wear or damage around the bottom bracket. Check the chainset for missing teeth, ring bolts, and examine crank arms for anything that indicates damage. Spin the chainset backward if it doesn’t move freely thoroughly clean and lube the bottom bracket. Similarly give your pedals a spin to ensure that they are securely attached, spinning freely and the bearings are all in place. Quickly check if the brackets are working fine by putting the pedals in 12.30 position and push down while applying the brakes, the cranks and bottom bracket shouldn’t move, otherwise proper repair service is needed.
Jiggle your saddle (seat) to confirm its in the right position and tight. If you have a dropper seat, check if it is moving up and down smoothly. Use an Allen key to tighten the seat post clamp if the seat is loose and recheck the saddle is securely mounted after reinstallation of the seat post.
Spokes on both sides should make a similar sound when plucked with fingers to ensure that they possess equal tension. Examine the motion, a lot of movement confirms that they are obviously very loose. You should bring your bike into the mechanic shop to have them tightened.
Dress in bright and reflective clothing preferably bright yellow, red, orange, or blue vest to be seen by other motorists on the road. Especially in the early morning, late at night, cloudy days, or in low light conditions. Contrast with the surroundings by putting reflective strips and flashing lights on the bike and clothes. The main purpose is to be clearly visible on the road. Keep in mind that nothing should get caught your bike chain, therefore, make sure you are not wearing loose pants, and your shoelaces or straps are tied securely. Always pay attention to detail on your footwear. Go for proper sportswear sneakers to get grip on the pedals. (flip flops not recommended) Riding gloves can also help in gripping the handlebars.
Know The Road Rules, Road Sense And Legislations
For safety practices its best to follow the rules and use common sense on the road while riding in traffic. Bicycles are considered as vehicles and cyclists possess same duties and rights as all other motorists. According to Ottawa Traffic and Parking Laws bicycle riders are required to:
1. Obey all traffic laws and lights, all riders must stop at red light and stop signs.
2. Use proper hand signals to let others on the road know your intent to make a turn or stop or change the lane.
3. Always stay on the right side of the road to when riding.
4. In one-way streets, cyclists can ride only in the designated direction.
5. It is strictly forbidden to use the sidewalk for cycling. There are designated bike lanes, and when there is none you are expected to bike on the road.
6. All vehicles and motorists have equal rights so learn to share the road.
7. It is mandatory to use flashing lights and reflectors when riding at night or low light conditions. Precisely a white front light, a red rear reflector, a 25 cm white reflective tape on the front fork, and 25 cm red reflective tape at the back.
8. You must have a bell or horn on your bike
9. Cyclists under 18 years old wear a helmet by law.
10. Its extremely unsafe and illegal to ride in the opposite direction of the traffic, always ride in the direction of the traffic.
11. Stay vigilant for any obstacles or hurdles on the road.
12. It is suggested by Canada Safety Council to wear bright-colored clothing with reflective elements to increase the visibility of the bike for other motorists on the road as at sunrise, sunset, or gloomy weather can make the bikers less visible on the road.
Riding a bike can be road as an essential mode of transportation, or for pure pleasure. Regardless of the reason you’re riding, you should always make sure you’re aware of the rules, laws, and safety procedures to avoid injury to you and your surroundings!