1. Maintain and Regularly Inspect Your Equipment: Be safe and keep your bike tuned up. Take it to a bike shop at least twice a year for professional inspection. Secure any loads tightly to a rack or trailer.
2. Wear a Helmet Correctly: Always wear your helmet to prevent head injury. You want your helmet to fit correctly. It should be level and snug. You should be able to see the helmet brim.
3. Be Visible and Predictable: Plan ahead to avoid obstacles and hazards. Wear bright colors. Ride straight in a predictable manner. Signal before changing directions.
4. Ride with Traffic: Always ride on the right side of the road. Do not pass motorists on the right. If you approach an intersection with a right turn lane and intend to continue straight, ride with through traffic. When a road is too narrow for cars and bikes to ride side by side, “take the travel lane,” which means riding in or near the center.
5. Watch for Potential Hazards: Think win-win and always negotiate with traffic. Scan the road 100 feet ahead for hazards—drains, potholes, rail road tracks or broken glass and other debris. Allow time to maneuver around these hazards. Avoid riding into open car doors by giving yourself 3 or 4 feet.
6. Signal All Turns: Look back before you make a lane change or turn. Signal safely in advance.
7. Making Left Hand Turns: Experienced bicyclists may prefer to turn left as a vehicle by moving into the left side of the travel lane (or left turn lane). An option, for the less experienced, is to cross like a pedestrian by stopping, dismounting, and walking across crosswalks.
8. Be Prepared for Conditions: Always carry plenty of water and appropriate supplies, clothing, when bicycling. Remember to allow yourself extra distance to stop when you use your brakes in the rain.
9. Obey All Traffic Laws: Remember, you are part of traffic. Ride with traffic. Obey stop signs, traffic lights, and other traffic controls. Bicyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.
10. Ride Single File in Traffic: Ride single file in traffic except when passing others. Also, notify other bicyclists of approaching cars.
11. Warn Others When Approaching: Bicyclists must yield to pedestrians. Be courteous by warning others with a ring of your bell or a friendly greeting. Always allow plenty of space when passing.
12. Always Ride with Lights at Night: Bicycle reflectors are not sufficient for safety. Bicycle Blog USA recommends a headlight visible from at least 500 feet when riding at night and a flashing red tail light visible from 600 feet. Wear reflective clothing. Remember this important fact; we use lights and reflective clothing not to see, but to be seen.
The Palm Springs Guru thanks the Capitol Region Council of Governments Connecticut Bicycle Coalition and the Illinois State Police for providing important and life saving information for this article.