Out on the road.
Keep in mind that safety doesn’t just mean protective equipment; it’s also about how cyclists interact with motorists, pedestrians, and other cyclists.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds cyclists that “a bicycle is a vehicle, and you’re the driver.” This means that cyclists have to follow all traffic laws and obey street signs, signals, and road markings. Ride in the same direction as traffic when cycling on roadways. Running stop signs and other traffic control devices puts you and other cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists in danger.
Remember that potholes, bottles, glass, curbs, and sewer grates pose a bigger risk to cyclists than they do to cars. Keep your eyes up and look far enough ahead of you to make an evasive maneuver or stop in time to avoid a crash. Anticipate that someone may open their parked car door when you’re riding past.
The only way you are able to interact with traffic is by using hand signals. Both NHTSA and League of American Bicyclists say that it’s the law to use proper hand signals and that doing so communicates your intentions to turn or stop, making it safer for everyone.
Try not to weave in your travel lane. While it’s necessary to avoid obstacles, inattentive riding and random movements can confuse or unnerve drivers. They may slow and avoid passing you because they don’t know what you are doing. Or they may aggressively pass, putting them, you, and other traffic at risk.
Stay single file no matter where you are riding. This allows traffic to give you 3 feet of space when passing without having to veer into the oncoming lane and lets other cyclists pass you safely on the road. If it’s legal to ride on the sidewalk in your town or city, keep in mind that riding two or three abreast on the sidewalk crowds out pedestrians.
Whether you’re commuting or interval training, keep off your phone. NHTSA says cyclists should never wear headphones because they hinder their ability to hear traffic. Plus, it can become a distraction if you need to take a hand off the handlebars to change the volume, choose another song, or accept/reject a call on your mobile phone. And just like driving, texting is a major distraction. One slight wobble and even the most experienced cyclist will go down in a heap. You can attach a small saddlebag under the seat or to the frame to stash a phone. This not only keeps it from being a distraction but also prevents you from accidentally dropping the phone.