Few Americans love riding their bikes more than Californians. California ranked as the 4th most bicycle-friendly state in 2019 by The League of American Bicyclists. This enthusiasm does wonders for traffic congestion and personal exercise, but more bikers on the road means more opportunities for accidents.
The most recent study of bicycle crashes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that California also holds 4th in bicycle crash fatality ratings. Cyclists can do much to curb these numbers.
Overlooked bike safety tips
Most bikers understand basic cycling safety measures like wearing a helmet or riding in bike lanes. The following overlooked bike tips may help even veteran cyclists stay safer on the road:
- Wear a helmet: Bike riders follow this “basic” safety measure as often as they overlook it. Only 50% of people who operate bicycles regularly wear a helmet, even though nearly 75% of fatal crashes involve head trauma. Wearing knee and elbow pads can also help keep limbs protected during a fall.
- Signal properly: Human error accounts for over 90% of bike accidents. Cyclists should always use proper hand signaling, even when they believe no vehicles are around.
- Stay off the sidewalks: Some cyclists incorrectly assume that the best way to avoid traffic while biking is to stick to the sidewalk when it is often more dangerous. Drivers do not look for fast-moving traffic on pedestrian walkways while bushes, street signs and trees often obscure visibility.
- Reflectors, lights and a bell: These accessories go a long way toward road safety, allowing bikers to signal to vehicles and pedestrians of their location and intent.
- Proper bicycle maintenance: Among the most overlooked safety tips, few bikers perform regular maintenance on their bikes. It is vital to keep bike tires full, the bike chain rust-free and brakes responsive and reliable.
Proven to protect
Each of the above safety tips can help California cyclists stay safe on dangerous roads. As more people choose bikes over cars for their travel options, they would do well to understand how best to keep themselves safe.