DO’S AND DON’TS OF CYCLING
Pedal Your Way to Health and Happiness by Obeying Rules of the Road
Jun 06, 2017
Story by Dwight Hugget
Page designed by Jonathan Powell, NTC Communications
It’s awesome being on a bicycle.
But you don’t need to be a fanatic like me to celebrate the joy of cycling, the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and the opportunity to meet cool people along the way.
Riding a bicycle is a great way to get from here to there – as long as you think safety first, wear proper protective equipment and obey the rules of the road to avoid becoming a traffic statistic.
In 2015, 818 people lost their lives in bicycle/motor vehicle crashes, more than two people every day of the year in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition, there were an estimated 494,000 emergency room visits due to bicycle-related injuries.
Following a few simple Do’s and Don’ts can help to make your ride both incident- and accident-free if you’re an average biker:
Wear a helmet.
Pass other riders on the LEFT.
Lock your bike safely onto immodddwbike-signalsveable objects.
Use lights and reflectors all the time.
Wear bright, reflective clothing.
Obey traffic lights and road signs.
Ride against traffic.
Leave removable items on your bike (lights, etc.).
Ride through green lights without looking.
Block exits or driveways.
Lock your bike to objects easily cut or removed.
I can’t stress enough the importance of wearing a helmet, not just any helmet, but ideally one recommended by a good, reputable bike shop.
Even a minor bicycle accident can be deadly if a head injury occurs. Head injuries cause 75 percent of annual bicycle deaths, and a head injury can mean brain injury.
Helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent, and the odds of head, face or neck injury by 33 percent.
If you’re a parent and a biker, always show that you love your children by wearing a helmet to set a good example.
Using proper hand signals is another important way to avoid accidents. I ride in small groups and, even when it’s just me and another person, we might have to line up behind each other. I use simple hand signals to let others behind me know what’s going on.
Whether you’re riding your bicycle to a neighborhood grocery store or just cruising around town, here are six additional tips to help make your ride safe and smooth.
1. Don’t be a distracted biker. No texting, headphones, surfing or eatinmwhile on the move and in the saddle. You’re asking for trouble if you don’t pay attention to the road.
2. Dress Right. Don’t wear sweat pants or other floppy clothes that may get caught in your chain. Loose-fitting clothes also may cause enough aerodynamic drag that you pump your legs and heart out and go nowhere.
3. Buy and maintain equipment that suits you. Go to your local bicycle shop, get fitted and test ride a multi-purpose bike. If it feels good and comfy, you’re good. Get a bike with gears so you can pedal easily up inclines or hills. Let the gears do the work.
4. Get a rear light. If you ride at night, you absolutely should use a flashing red rear light. Without lights, your odds of having a bike collision increase significantly after dark. Bike shops have red rear “blinkies” for $15 or less.
5. Wear a reflective vest or a safety triangle. High-quality reflective gear makes you a lot more visible even in daylight. At night, the difference is even greater. Bike shops have vests and triangles for $10 to $15.
6. Get a mirror. Get a mirror and use it. If it looks like a car doesn’t see you, hop off your bike and onto the sidewalk. Mirrors cost $5-15. My paranoia went down 80% after I got one.
Bicycling has become my “thing.” But even as a casual biker you also can experience the passion of pedal power by getting more involved in this sport.
A cool way to do so is to rent a bike to cruise around a city you visit. I often call local bike shops ahead of time to arrange for a rental. Typical cost: $20-$30 for the day, and that’s negotiable.
Group rides are another option. Most cities have a day of the week when people get together and ride slow around the town. A great example is Detroit Slow Roll, www.slowroll.bike, which offers a perfect opportunity to catch the real vibes of the city.
Give it a shot. You won’t regret the experience – you may even get hooked like I did.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dwight Hugget works in the Information Technology Department of the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center (NTC). The 6-foot-6, 370-pound former NCAA Division I college basketball player has always appreciated the benefits of cycling as a great way to stay fit and healthy.
In the last three years, however, Dwight has become a hardcore biker. He owns eight bikes, rides 50 to 100 miles on a typical summer weekend and participates in cycling events around the country.
Dwight provides Application, Network and Systems Support at the NTC. He earned Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Computer Science and Computer Information Systems – Management, and has held numerous IT positions in business and industry over the last 24 years.