8 Tips for Safer Bike Commuting

8 Tips for Safer Bike Commuting https://learningcentre.statefarm.ca/safety-2/work/bike-community/ bb3 Mar 20, 2014

By Staff Writer

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Each May Canadians celebrate National Bike to Work Day, which inspires many people to drop their keys, dust off their bikes and start pedaling to the office. Brush up on some basic biking rules before joining in. “It’s really important to plan ahead. It increases your comfort and safety on your bike,” says Erin O’Melinn, executive director of HUB, a Canadian cycling organization.

Safe bike commuting

Keep these in mind as you plan:

  1. Inspect your bike. The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) recommends using your ABCs: Check the air pressure of your tires; make sure your brakes and bell work, and that your handlebar is a comfortable height; and test your chain and gears.
  2. Pick a safe route. As you map out your commute, consider traffic volume, road condition, speed limit and the overall geography. “Go online and take a look at your city’s bike maps,” O’Melinn says.
  3. Dress appropriately. Seven out of the 10 Canadian provinces enforce helmet laws, but you should wear a helmet regardless. If you’re worried about ruining work clothes, pack an outfit and change at the office. Also prepare for the weather. Take rain gear, and dress in layers so you can shed clothing as you warm up. Also wear an ankle strap or tuck the cuffs of your pants into your socks to avoid getting caught in the gears or chain.
  4. Make yourself visible. Install lights and reflectors on your bike — red for the back and white for the front. Refrain from wearing dark clothes that will make you difficult to see at night or in the early morning. Wear bright-colored, reflective clothing.
  5. Be predictable. “Ride straight and use your signals,” O’Melinn says. Weaving in and out of traffic is dangerous, but if you have to switch lanes or make a turn, use appropriate hand signals.
  6. Load smart. Heavy backpacks, purses or briefcases are a distraction and could throw off your balance, resulting in an accident. Install a rack, a basket, saddle bags or panniers on your bike. Waterproof versions are great for transporting work clothes and materials.
  7. Stay alert. “Always be aware and never assume that other drivers can see you,” O’Melinn says. In addition to vehicles, watch for road hazards such as pot holes and slippery surfaces.
  8. Know the laws. Obey basic traffic signals and laws, such as riding on the right side of the road with traffic. Bike laws differ province-to-province, so be sure to research the rules and regulations in your area.

For more information, visit the CAA’s bike safety page.