Did you know that hundreds of thousands of people in the United States commute to work by bicycle, according to the U.S. Census Bureau? That’s a lot of cars off the road each day, a lot of gasoline saved and a ton of calories burned.
Maybe you’re a bicycle commuter already — or maybe you want to give it a try. These tips from the League of American Bicyclists and other organizations will help you prepare for the challenges you’ll face on your way to work. (We’ve included a few tips for drivers, too.)
Be prepared. Always check your bike and other equipment before you leave on each trip. Also carry the proper tools and gear (including wet-weather clothing, if needed).
Obey the law, traffic signals and signs. You have a right to be on the road with cars, but you also have the same duties.
Stay right. Ride with the flow of traffic in the right lane. Leave room to make emergency maneuvers. NEVER ride against the flow of traffic - if you do, you create unnecessary risks: if you are riding at 15mph against traffic traveling at 40mph, the closing speed is now 55mph, giving drivers less time to react to you. On the other hand, if you are riding with the flow of traffic at 15mph while cars are traveling at 40mph, the closing speed is reduced to 25mph, increasing the driver's reaction time.
Be visible. Drivers are often distracted, and many aren’t expecting to see cyclists on the road. So make them see you! Stay out of blind spots. Wear bright-colored clothing during the day, with reflective clothing and lights, both during the day and at night. Also use hand signals so motorists know your intentions.
Be highly aware. Scan your surroundings constantly so you can react quickly. Pay attention to cars parked alongside the curb; a door can fly open at any moment.
Be predictable. While scanning your surroundings, make adjustments to your position in the road well before you come upon a hazard, such as a potential car door opening. Making abrupt, unexpected changes in your position will decrease drivers' opportunity to safely react to you.
Bonus tips for drivers: Stay on the lookout for cyclists. When you see them, be patient — they have a right to the road, too. If you park on the street, check behind you before opening doors. And, always remember that your significant size and speed advantage can be deadly in an accident.
Cars and bicycles can, in fact, peacefully coexist on the roads. All it takes is a little preparation and a lot of awareness, along with some understanding thrown in for good measure.
If you’re biking to work, we may be able to help you get a special discount on your car insurance for driving your vehicle less. Call today for details!