Think Safety First When Cycling
Cycling is one of the United States’ most favorite past times. Many areas, like The Landings, with its moderate climate and remarkable scenery, make cycling an attractive option for both recreation and transportation all year long.
Regardless of the reason for cycling, there always is a risk of injury. Cyclists face many hazards every time they go for a ride, even on a designated bike path. Injuries range from minor cuts and bruises to broken bones, head trauma, and even death. Even if you are an experienced cyclist, it is a good idea to review the basics of bicycle safety from time to time, especially if you have some younger cyclists in your household.
It might come as no surprise, but an essential piece of your gear is the bike itself. It is necessary to make sure you ride a bike that fits you and is well-maintained. Before you hit the trails, it is imperative to inspect your bike to ensure the tires are adequately inflated and all the parts are secure and working correctly. You may be the next Eddy Merckx when it comes to cycling, but you will not be a champion if your brakes do not work!
Once you have ensured that your bike is in order, you will need the proper equipment, including a snug-fitting helmet, reflective clothing for low-visibility conditions, and safety equipment such as reflectors, lights, and mirrors. Georgia law requires that any bicycle rider or passenger under 16 years of age must wear a helmet [O.C.G.A. §40-6-296(d)]. However, the National Safety Council recommends that everyone should wear a helmet regardless of the length of the ride.
You finally are ready to leave the comfort of your driveway for a hazard-free ride now that you are adequately prepared, right? Not quite, as even the most prepared cyclist will encounter hazards during their trip. According to the AAA Exchange, the best guideline is to be alert, be wary, and be seen.
Be alert - Use your eyes and ears. Keep your head up and look ahead, left, and right. You need to see what is coming up to have enough time to react. Watch for potholes, dogs, broken glass, or anything that could make you lose control of your bike. Do not use personal electronics while riding so you can listen for traffic.
Be wary - Pay attention to vehicles, pedestrians, and others on the road. Anticipate that others around you will do something careless. Be focused and vigilant to what is happening around you. Watch for parked cars, and ride far enough out from the curb to avoid the unexpected.
Be seen - Use your horn, hand signals, and light to be seen by others on the road. Wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors to be easily seen when riding regardless of the time of day. Use verbal and non-verbal communication such as eye contact with drivers or stating, “passing on your left.” Most importantly, never assume that just because you see a driver or made eye contact with the driver that he or she sees you.
In addition to the above tips, you should be familiar with the laws pertaining to bicycles. Each state has its own regulations, so do not assume what is legal where you moved from is also legal in Georgia. To familiarize yourself with Georgia Bicycle Laws, please visit the Georgia Bikes website (georgiabikes.org/resources/educational-resources/ga-bicycle-laws).
With a little advanced planning and some basic knowledge of the bike laws, cycling can be the perfect combination to keep you mentally and physically fit for many years to come.