A Guide to Bike Safety

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A Guide to Bike Safety

You never forget how to ride a bike. Why? Perhaps because it's such a joyful experience that most people really can't stay away from bikes long enough to forget how to ride them!
Although bike riding is a wonderful experience, if one isn't careful there is also a strong possibility of getting seriously injured. According to some estimates, almost 300,000 children end up in hospitals every year due to bike related injuries and 10,000 of them stay there for a few days. In 2003, over 500 children were treated at Princess Margaret Hospital in Western Australia due to bicycle related injuries. So, fun should always be balanced with safety!
In this article we'll cover some basic bicycle safety tips that you and your loved ones should know.
Child Safety Australia - A super-quick safety reference guide for Australian children who ride bikes
Bike Safety Fact Sheet For Australia - Some great statistics on the dangers kids face while riding bikes and what basic guidelines they should follow in order to ride safely
Bike Safety - A great article from Kidshealth.com on bike safety tips and equipment
NHTSA (USA) - This webpage from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has some great information and videos about bike safety for both adults and kids
Bicycle Safe - A very comprehensive site covering lots of great information on safe bicycle riding practices
Is Cycling Dangerous? - A very important article which every bicycle enthusiast should read about the facts and myths of bike riding dangers. Includes some very good statistics

Bike Safety Equipment

Before you ride off into the sunset, make sure you have your safety equipment- in case you fall off!
The following are some of the basic bicycle safety items you'll need:

  • A helmet - A helmet is a must and is required by law in most Australian states. Your helmet should fit snuggly over your head. The straps should wrap around comfortably under your chin and should not cover your ears. And make sure your helmet is brightly colored so other drivers can see you!
  • Bright Clothing - You need to make sure your clothes are brightly colored during the day and reflective at night, again this will help others to see you. If you don't have reflective clothing then wear white clothes.
  • Brakes - Make sure at least one of the brakes of your bike are working
  • Horns and bells - According to the Australian Roads and Maritime Services, your bike MUST be fitted with a horn or bell in order to warn other cyclists or pedestrians
  • Reflectors and Lights - If you're riding at night or during hazardous weather conditions then your bike must be fitted with both lights and reflectors. See the Australian Roads and Maritime Services link below for further information.

Here are some other great links about bicycle safety equipment:
Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute - Can you believe it? A whole website dedicated to bicycle helmet safety!
Bicycling Safety Equipment - This article pretty much covers everything you or your kids need to safely ride your bikes
Australian Roads and Maritime Services - Great information on what safety equipment you need while biking as well as what the Australian government's standard requirements are for bicycle safety equipment
Bike Safety Equipment for Kids - This site covers all the must-have equipment for children bicycling in Australia (Victoria) as well as recommended gear
Oregon Metro - Although written for an Oregon (U.S.) audience, this website covers all the basics anyone needs to know about bike safety equipment, no matter where they're riding

Bike Safety Rules & Tips

Once you're out on the road with your bike, you need to use your common sense in order to ensure your safety and to avoid getting hit by a car or injuring a pedestrian. The following tips might help:

  • Follow all traffic rules! - Just because you're on a bike doesn't mean you don't have to stop at traffic lights!
  • Hands on the handlebars - Always keep your hands on the handlebars unless your signaling to turn
  • Avoid busy streets - this one is a no brainer. It's difficult enough for car drivers to avoid other cars on a busy street; it will be even more difficult for them to pay attention to bicyclists. If you know a specific street will be busy at a particular time then try and avoid it and use alternate routes.
  • Use bike routes - If your city/town has designated routes for bikes then nothing like it! Use these as often as possible
  • Distance from the curb - Ride straight and keep a distance of about 1 meter from the curb and parked vehicles
  • Distance from other vehicles - The vehicle in front of you might stop all of a sudden so make sure to maintain a safe distance that will allow you to brake in time
  • Use Lights and Reflectors - Make sure your bike has lights or reflectors (especially in the evening) so that you're as visible as possible
  • Signal your turns - Learn some of the hand signals in the links below so that you can indicate to other drivers that you intend to turn in advance
  • Lock up - Finally, lock your bike properly in order to prevent theft. Please also see the links below for other tips on protecting your bike from theft.

More great safety tips below:
Australian Road Rules - Road rules for Australia for all types of drivers, including bicyclists
Road Rules - This covers the basic traffic rules you need to be aware of when biking on the road
How to Not Get Hit By Cars - Great article discussing the most common types of bike-car collisions and how to avoid them as well as what other tips you should adhere to in order to stay safe on the road
Bicycle Traffic Safety - This site by Ken Kifer offers great advice for biking in traffic and covers many topics including: -How to Ride in Traffic, How to Avoid Traffic Accidents, Cyclist Errors, Teaching Children to Bike Safely, and many more
How to Prevent Bicycle Theft - You might be a pro at navigating your bike in the worst traffic, but what are you going to do if you beloved ride gets stolen? Well, here are some great tips to make sure your bike stays you parked it
How to Lock your Bike - The correct way to lock your bike as well as other safety tips and what to do if your bike gets stolen
Be Safe While Bicycling - A simple, step by step instruction guide covering topics such as checking your bike before riding, helmets, navigating traffic and staying alert, riding at night, preventing theft and others
Basic Biking Hand Signals - Covers the very minimum hand signals you need to be aware of to safely ride your bicycle on the road

Safe Places to Ride Bicycles

Finally, here are some great places to safely ride your bike in Australia!
Australia's Best Bike Rides - What do you think is the best place to go for a bike ride in Australia? Maybe it's on this list, or maybe you might change your mind after reading this post.
Great Biking Trails in Melbourne - Have you ever biked the Bay Trail, Dandenong Creek, Main Yarra Trail, or Scotchman's Creek Trail? Well, if you're a biking enthusiast living in Australia, these are just a few of the places you should be at.

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