Cycling is one of the most favored exercises, especially here at StrandCyclist.com. It is popular for several reasons. First, it is a pretty neat way of transportation if you think about it. Indeed, you can save a lot if you use your bicycle to move from one place to another. Secondly, cycling is pro-environment. Bicycles do not need fuel – so, it is both good for your health, and it is good for our planet’s health.
However, there are certain things that need to be borne in mind for individuals who may engage in cycling either as an exercise, or as a way of life, or both. It must be noted that one in five accidents all over the world are cycling accidents, mainly because cyclists do not really adhere to traffic rules as much as they should. Obedience to traffic rules is, in fact, our first tip for safety. Also, do not under any circumstances ride without a helmet!
Obey traffic rules
Traffic rules and laws vary from one state to another. More so, rules vary greatly between cultures and between countries. The most important thing is, before one rides with the traffic-at-large, he or she must familiarize himself with all the traffic rules of the place. As a matter of fact, simple familiarization might not be enough. It would be very wise for a cyclist to actually put to heart these different rules as this would certainly save him time, money, and even his life.
As we have mentioned in the preceding paragraph, cyclists are involved in accidents largely because they fail to obey rules, not so much because they do not know the rules, but because of blatant disregard for the aforementioned rules. Cyclists, because of the mobility and size of their machines, are arrogantly confident are immune to traffic accidents. Well, they couldn’t be more wrong.
Stay right (or left – where applicable)
In the United States, the correct lane is the right lane. So, as a rule of thumb, you stay on that lane. It is an act of utter foolishness to drive against a flow – this can either put you in jail or in the morgue.
Staying on the right lane is just the first part of the trick. Now, being a cyclist with a very light machine, you need to make sure that you stay on the lane reserved for light machines, like your cycle. Some cyclists actually take this to the extreme by travelling on pedestrian lanes or sidewalks. While this might be relatively safe, this activity is illegal in many cities and states.
Again, stick to traffic rules. These rules say that cyclists should stay on the far right. If you do this, other motorists will respect your place. However, one must not be on the extreme far right – you should make sure that there is still room for emergency maneuvers, just in case the worst happens.
In Europe, and in many other countries in Asia, the correct lane is the left lane. It is important for an American used to American traffic norms to familiarize himself with this orientation.
Do not ride alongside trucks
Trucks are large vehicles which might not be able to see puny road users like cyclists. As a rule of thumb, when you see a truck or a lorry, give way. Giving way to big machines is not simply showing respect to the mammoths, it is also safe since large machines travelling at high speeds can cause turbulence – yes, turbulence – which can throw you off balance. Furthermore, unwritten traffic rules say that cyclists must not attempt to overtake trucks, unless the latter is signaling that he is going to slow down or stop. Cyclists must stay behind trucks – far behind them, in fact.
Basically, this simply means that you need to use your head and your common sense all the time when you are on the road. You have to remember that you are travelling with thousands of metal monsters and a single mistake on your part can cost you your life.
Thus, be predictable; being predictable means that you need to travel at constant path and speed. Changing lanes unpredictably is very dangerous and you can be hit by fast-moving vehicles. Even your speed must be somewhat constant. You have to always bear in mind that the other motorists on the road expect you to be constant; furthermore, if you reduce your speed with an inattentive driver behind, you will be in a very terrible accident. In the first place, this is the reason why you should always stay on the lane reserved for cyclists.
Finally, always stop when the light says stop or you approach a stop sign. Some cyclists seem to trust their machines so much that they actually think they can pass through small cracks in the traffic. Well, sometimes, with luck on your side, you can do this. But, if you push your luck too far, you will lose your life.
It is important to remember that riding a small and light machine like your bicycle makes you very prone to accidents. Plus, you do not have seatbelts; you do not have any protective structures which can protect you from violent crashes. All you have is your suit and your helmet, which can do nothing in violent accidents.
Always travel with the utmost care and presence of mind. Never take anything to chance. Always obey traffic rules.