10 Things You NEED to be a Safer Cyclist on the Road
Over the past decade, bikers have been disproportionately involved in traffic related accidents. Even though biking accounts for only 1% of the total trips made by Americans, almost 2% of the total accidents on the road today involve biking. With nearly 40,000 people being injured on bikes every year, it makes sense to emphasize the right safety equipment to help protect you during an accident and potentially avoid a collision altogether.
Must Have Bicycle Safety Items
As any bike safety instructor will tell you, the most important piece of bike safety equipment is the helmet. Given the importance of your head and brain, it is no wonder people need to pay particular attention to this safety item. Look inside the helmets to determine if there are Consumer Products Safety Commission and American Society for Testing Materials stickers that indicate worthy testing. It is also illegal in many parts of the Country to go without a bike helmet so this is your first priority.
What is the purpose of cycling gloves? These gloves protect your hands and joints from constant vibrations and prevent things like hand numbness which can be both a pain and make steering and reaction time more difficult. These gloves will also prevent painful blisters and friction burn which can be quite nasty. A road cyclist should never ride without gloves.
Bright Colored Jersey
With so many modern distractions, it may be difficult for drivers to see you even during the day. A bright colored jersey will help you to be seen throughout the day by drivers that are distracted or do not have good vision. Typically these jerseys can cost less than $50 and they typically breathe well for comfortable riding.
One wrong move on the road can mean the difference between life or death. The sunlight often causes problems for bikers, which is why a simple pair of sunglasses can be so important. Bikers can use a normal pair of sunglasses with straps to keep them in place, but Tifosi brand glasses are designed specifically for bikers. The Tifosi brand sunglasses cost a little bit more than others, but it is well worth it for the protection.
Knowledge is power on the road and a mirror can help orient you while biking. The CatEye BM-300G road mirror from REI is a versatile, affordable, and easily installed mirror that can be effective while on the road. This is somewhat controversial as some riders find a mirror to be distracting.
For nighttime bike rides, you must make sure cars can see you. LED lights can cost between $60 – 350 depending on the quality, but it is well worth it to protect yourself from drivers with poor night vision.
Bike riders who do not want to spend the money on a full LED light setup can choose to get a reflector set instead. Reflectors are a traditional method that allow drivers to see a bike in the dark by reflecting headlights back to the driver. Even though the reflector is less useful at longer ranges, it can be a valuable tool to save your life. Many bikes have some reflectors built in but there are supplemental kits available as well as wrist and ankle reflector bracelets.
Tire Inflation Tool
Being stranded on a bike could be deadly if you are in the wrong area. A portable pump or alternatively a cartridge system will give you the peace of mind while you are biking.
Bells and Horns
Few bicycle riders want to place bells and horns on their bike, but in many environments, it is often a necessity. When the lights, reflectors, and brightly colored clothing do not work to capture the attention of drivers, it is necessary to try another avenue. Some bells, such as the XL Incredibell, can go next to the handlebars without being invasive.
Water and Proper Nutrition
It may not seem like water has much of an impact on crash-rates on your bike, but dehydration can lead to poor decision making. Without proper hydration, bikers have a harder time controlling their vehicle, which can lead to crashes and injuries. Any activity is difficult when distracted by thirst, but biking is particularly important given the risk of crashing.
Biking Safety Today
Even though biking accidents have fallen dramatically between 1995 and today, there are thousands of people that get injured every day. Most of these accidents are avoidable with the application of bike safety principles and road safety rules. The costs of safety gear on the bike are not high, but the reward can be life saving. Even if you do not use all 10 road biking safety items, helmets and lights are most important.
We want to hear from YOU.. Please leave your comments below about any items you think are important as well and any links to more biking safety information.