Biking Tips For Safer Travel In Traffic
When cyclists and motorists share the road, cyclists are more vulnerable in the event of a mishap. We have some tips to help cyclists stay safe in traffic.
More than ever, Americans hop on their bicycles to make their daily work commute. Saint Paul and Minneapolis are internationally recognized as great cities for biking. Our bike trails and lanes invite bikers to pedal for exercise, for fun, or for a climate-friendly commute.
Roadways in the Twin Cities are designed to accommodate both two-wheeled and four-wheeled commuters, but traffic crashes still happen. In 2014, bicyclists account for 2 percent of all traffic deaths and 2 percent of all crash-related injuries. Twenty percent of deadly crashes happen in the evening, between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., and occur in urban areas. Male bikers between 20 and 24 years of age are at much greater risk.
At Summit, we applaud community members who make a physically active commute part of their daily routine—and we want that choice to be safe as well as healthy. The good news is that many traffic crashes can be avoided when cyclists and motorists follow the rules of the road and exercise respect for their fellow commuters. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides bicycle safety recommendations that support safe biking habits as you pedal your way through another beautiful Twin Cities summer season.
Tips to help cyclists stay safe in traffic
- Wear a helmet. Put on your helmet—even for a short trip—and make sure it fits properly. Visit the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute website at bhsi.org for a comprehensive list of manufacturer helmet sizes.
- Maintain your biking equipment. You are safer on a bike that fits you, is equipped with safety features, and is regularly maintained. Use a signal bell, front and rear lights, and reflectors on your bike so it’s easy for drivers to spot you after dark.
- Be visible. Wear bright clothing during the day, and reflective clothing at night. Tuck in shoelaces and pant legs to keep them clear of the bike chain. Bike where you are expected to be seen by motorists.
- Plan your route. Take roads with fewer vehicles and slower speeds when you can. Routes with dedicated bike lanes or bike paths are your safest options.
- Cycle defensively. Ride in the same direction as traffic, obeying street signs, signals, and road markings just as you would in your car. Scan the road in front of you for hazards. Don’t use a cell phone, listen to music, or engage in other distracting behaviors while you bike.
- Check local laws before you ride your bike on a sidewalk. Minnesota is one of the few states to address sidewalk biking in our state laws. Sidewalk biking is prohibited in most business districts, and bicyclists are required to yield to pedestrians.
- Practice makes perfect. Biking is a skill. You can improve your riding skills and increase your safety by taking an on-bike class through a recreation department, bike shop, or workshops offered at biking festivals in the Twin Cities through the summer.
Biking with confidence
By following these tips and guidelines, you can travel by bike with greater security and confidence. Although our OrthoQUICK clinics are ready to help if you are injured on your bike, we’d much rather see you pedaling safely along our beautiful paths and trails this summer.
Check out our Family Fun Cycling Guide for more great tips and recommended Minnesota trails.
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