Cycling Safety

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December 15, 2010

The Northwest has two natural phenomena that make this region a beautiful place to live: trees and rain, both of which create extra challenges for people who commute to work by bicycle.

As the days get shorter, early sunsets make it hard to see and even harder to be seen. Wearing bright colors helps, however the use of lights and reflectors makes a drastic difference. Wearing two lights, one for the front and one for the back of your bike or coat, allows others to see you and judge their distance from you. Having lights is not only the smart choice, it can also be the only legal choice — many cities have laws that require lights when riding in the dark.

Autumn leaves turn beautiful colors then fall the ground, and wet leaves make for very slick riding conditions. When riding over leaves, never make sharp turns. Wet leaves can cause your tires to slip out from under you. A fall from a bike, especially in traffic, can leave you with broken bones or worse.

This brings us to another important point: safety equipment. Never ride without a helmet. It is proven that helmets can help save lives. Remember that with helmets size does matter; wear one that is the right fit for you and don’t forget to adjust the straps correctly. It can’t protect your head if it flops around.

When riding, take a proactive approach. You need to be aware of everything around you. Cars, people, dogs, trees, and rocks are all possible safety hazards. Also, limit your distractions. Don’t use headphones while riding. If you get a phone call, pull over to the side and stop before answering. The more focused you are, the faster you can react.

You can’t be too safe when cycling out on the roads. Remember to take caution when it’s wet and even more when it’s dark outside. Wear the proper safety gear and limit your distractions. Cycling is fun; keep it fun by being safe.