June 3, 2014
5 Ways to Better Bike Safety

Bike SafetyPhoto credit: Paul Krueger via flickr.

1) Know the protected lanes (if any) in your town. A great, brand-new study of US bike lanes is reinforcing the idea that protected bike lanes (where there’s some physical buffer instead of just a painted line) between cyclists and cars are safery – one study showed they can cut cycling injuries in half. This is important, because traffic engineers long thought that cyclists should learn to ride in traffic, but the new data will help give oomph to cities’ push for creating protected lanes. The more the merrier!

2) Extra vigilance at intersections. City intersections are a big culprit in bike and car collisions. It pays to remind yourself to think about what the cars ahead are doing at intersections, as drivers are not 100% committed to using their blinkers or 100% accurate at seeing you in their side-view mirrors.

bike Safety
Photo credit: Mo Riza via flickr.

3) Don’t text and…well, anything else. In a 2010 Dutch study it was found that cyclists text a lot less than drivers do. But that doesn’t mean texting while biking is smart – texting is a major (and deadly) distraction for drivers, cyclists, and yes, even pedestrians.

Bike Safety

4) Get some fancy bike lights and a bright helmet! Bicycle Law says the majority of collisions between bicycles and cars occur at night. Many drivers report that they just ‘couldn’t see’ the cyclist. Bright lights, and a bright helmet make you more visible, increasing your conspicuity (yes, it’s a word) in low-visibility situations.
Photo credit: judy_and_ed via flickr.

5) Don’t salmon, don’t shoal. Who knew there was a lingo to bike safety? NPR, apparently.  Alec Baldwin is now the poster child for riding the wrong way in a bike lane, as he was ticketed in New York City last month for doing this. The practice is known as salmoning, and it, along with ‘shoaling’ (moving ahead of a person stopped at a light because you think you are faster)  are no-nos in city cycling. For more bike safety lingo, check here.

In the meantime, happy safe and stress-free biking! If you have a fav city cycling safety tip you can leave it in the comments.