How to Pedal Safely: Quick Bicycle Safety Tips

Bicycling is healthy way to get around. Traveling by bike also eliminates traffic congestion, reduces gas emissions and best of all, is free! Choosing to ride your bicycle for your daily commute is the "greenest" form of transportation aside from walking. You are also adding exercise to your daily routine. However, in Virginia, there were 875 bicycle crashes in 2007. Of this 875, there were 7 fatal crashes and 839 rider injuries. If you are going to ride, you need to consider the following tips so you will have a safe bicycling experience:

  • Bicycle Accident PreventionWear bright or reflective clothing to maximize your visibility at night.
  • Wear a DOT, ANSI, OR Snell-approved helmet which are designed with hard outer shells and a retention system to protect the head and the brain in a variety of impacts. In 2006, 41% of those killed in crashes were not wearing a helmet.
  • If your helmet is not equipped with a face shield, wear goggles or glasses with plastic lenses to protect your eyes against insects, wind, dirt, rocks, or other airborne matter.
  • Wear elbow and knee pads.
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes and avoid wearing sandals, flip-flops or shoes with laces.
  • Ride with the flow of traffic.
  • Walk your bicycle when you get into traffic situations beyond your cycling abilities.
  • Do not ride between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction unless one lane is a separate or mandatory turn lane.
  • In Virginia, bicyclists are not permitted to wear earphones in both ears while riding a bicycle.Bicyclists are not permitted to ride on Interstate and certain other controlled access highways. The restricted sections of the highways are marked with conspicuous signs.
  • Bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks unless prohibited by local ordinance or traffic control devices. While on sidewalks and shared use paths, bicyclists must always yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before passing a pedestrian.
  • Bicyclists pulling onto a sidewalk or highway from a driveway must yield the right of way to pedestrians or vehicles already on the sidewalk or highway.
  • Every bicycle ridden between sunset and sunrise must have a least one white headlamp with the light being visible at least 500 feet to the front. The bicycle must also have a red reflector on the rear visible at least 600 feet to the rear.
  • When riding at night, apply reflective tape to your bicycle.
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