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Whether you ride your bicycle pretty much everywhere or you are simply a casual bicyclist, safety should be a top priority. There are several things you can do to be a safer bicyclist or to continue being a safe bicyclist.

Route Safety Tips

When picking a route, one of your top priorities should be your safety. While Minnesota law does permit bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk, it is generally best to stick to roads and trails. Motorists pulling out of their driveways may not see you, resulting in an accident. If you do decide to ride on the sidewalk, make sure that it is permitted in the area. You should also yield to pedestrians and give an audible signal when passing a pedestrian.

Unfortunately, if you are riding your bike to work or otherwise using it as a form of transportation, you might have limited choices when it comes to your route. When you can pick your route, in general, wider roads, especially those with bike lanes, are going to be the safest. On narrower roads, you may be able to ride safely along the shoulder. If there is not a specific bike lane, you may also want to avoid riding on busy roads where you are more likely to get in a crash. Taking an alternate route, even if it is a bit longer, could be safer. Sometimes, it may even save you time if traffic is backed-up on the busier road.

Sharing the Road Tips

As a bicyclist, you are expected to follow many of the same rules as motorists on the road. This includes traveling in the same direction as traffic. It also includes stopping at stop lights and stop signs and waiting your turn to go. Bicyclists should stay as close to the right side of the road as possible with few exceptions. When there is debris along the side of the road or other hazards that make it unsafe to travel along the right side of the road, move over a little. You will also need to move from the right side of the road when you are making a left-hand turn.

It is also important to be aware and to be predictable. Being aware is about knowing what is going on around you. Part of this involves putting away any distractions, such as your cell phone or headphones, which may take your attention away from the road. Pay attention to what others around you, including other bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians, are doing. If someone does not appear to be paying attention, you may need to change your speed or move farther to the right to make yourself safer. You should also be aware of road conditions and any hazards you may encounter.

One of the most important parts of being predictable is making others aware of your intentions. Know the proper hand signals for stopping, turning right, and turning left. Always use these signals. Even if motorists do not remember these signals, doing them at least alerts motorists that you are about to do something. Another part of being predictable is avoiding weaving. Yes, it is safest to ride as close to the curb as possible, but if you find yourself weaving between vehicles in an attempt to stay close to the curb, drivers are going to have a harder time seeing you.

Safety Gear Tips

Part of being a safe bicyclist is having the right gear. Although Minnesota state law does not require you to wear a helmet, you should still wear one while riding your bike to keep yourself safer. Bright or reflective clothing, which makes you more visible to motorists, is also a good idea. If you are going to be traveling at night, your bike should also be equipped with reflectors and lights to make yourself more visible to others on the road. Even if you do not plan on riding at night, it is best to make sure that your bike has properly working reflectors and lights. These will be especially helpful during bad weather.

Another important step to take is to make sure that you are riding an appropriately sized bicycle. A bike that is not the right size, or where the seat or handlebars are not at the right height, could cause a safety hazard. This ThoughtCo article provides some tips for finding the right sized bike for your needs as well as adjusting the seat and handlebars to the right height. People working at a bike shop or other people who know a lot about bikes can also likely help you find the right one for your needs.

Tips for Your Young Bicyclist

If you have children, it is important to teach them proper bicycle safety from a young age. When your child is first learning to ride a bike, be sure to stick to a road where you are unlikely to encounter much traffic. For some people, this may mean learning to ride a bike in their own neighborhood and only riding around their own neighborhood in the beginning. If you live on a busy road, find another location where you can teach your child to ride a bike. Empty parking lots are a good option since it gives your child plenty of room to develop bike-riding skills.  As your child becomes more comfortable riding a bike, slowly begin venturing out together on the road. Point out road hazards or other potential dangers and let your child know how you would handle the situation. You may even want to ask your child to point out potential hazards and explain how they think you should handle the hazard. This will help your child prepare for riding on their own or with friends.

Of course, motorists and bicyclists alike share the responsibility of keeping bicyclists safe on the road. Because of inattentive drivers or other conditions, accidents sometimes happen even if you are working to be a safe bicyclist. If you or a family member was injured in a bicycle accident caused by someone else, contact us. We are committed to helping you, and there is no fee unless we win your case.