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GrandBob: Bicycle Safety

Tips for Bicycle Safety

Riding a bicycle can be loads of fun. But it involves a lot more than just balancing and staying upright. Here are a few "rules of the road" that GrandBob has learned over more than 30 years of long distance bicycle touring. Parents should be especially aware of these tips and pass them along to their children when they first learn how to ride.

1. Before you get on your bike make sure it's in good mechanical condition. Check the brakes, inflate the tires, and be sure the wheels are securely fastened to the bike. Do not ride a bicycle if it has a crack in the frame.

2. ALWAYS wear a helmet. It can prevent serious injury, or even save your life. It saved GrandBob's once. Helmets are required by law in many places.

3. On the road your bicycle is a vehicle, so you must obey all traffic laws just like cars do. This means stopping at stop signs and red lights, and yielding to other traffic as if you were a car. Use appropriate hand signals to indicate your turns and when you're slowing or stopping.

4. When you ride in the street ALWAYS ride on the right-hand side of the road going in the same direction as other traffic. NEVER ride on the left facing the cars. It is extremely dangerous to do so. Ride as closely to the right as you can, but give yourself plenty of room to maneuver in an emergency. Do not allow cars which are attempting to pass you on the left to squeeze you off the road. It you see that a car is approaching from behind you, and there isn't enough room for it pass safely, hold your place in the road, turn your head to the left so the driver knows that you are aware of his presence, and signal with your hand for the car to wait. This maneuver requires experience and practice, but is very important when you begin to ride in traffic.

5. ALWAYS wear visible clothing. Bright neon green and neon yellow are especially good colors. If you ride at night ALWAYS have a red tail light (GrandBob calls his a "blinky") and a bright head light on.

6. Stay alert at all times. Watch out for sand, gravel, glass, and other debris. Watch for pot holes and cracks in the roadway.

7. Watch for cars coming out of driveways and cross streets as well as oncoming traffic. Be aware of pedestrians and other bicycle riders. Assume that the drivers of cars don't see you, and act accordingly.

8. Railroad tracks can be very dangerous. Cross them at right angles with your hands firmly on the handlebars.

9. Riding two abreast can be fun and safe on some roads, but when there is other vehicular traffic around, you should ride single file.

10. NEVER ride with any kind of ear piece or headphone on. It will block your hearing, even if you're only using the device in one ear. Remember, you need to have all of your senses working 100% of the time to ride safely.

Have fun. Ride safely today in order to ride another day! And by the way, check out the link to Adventure Cycling's website on Other Great Sites.

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