People are always complaining about the traffic jams they have to endure getting to and from work. I often try to convince them to try bike commuting. And the usual question that I get is, “Is it safe?”
Commuting by bike is safe, as long as you follow the proper rules and avoid the mistakes that people usually do when biking. The benefits of bike commuting outweigh the risks.
Even people from far away places can benefit from biking by going bi-modal. From my experience, traffic jams are usually just within the city limits. Going bi-modal means that you bike from home to a bus/train station, take the bus/train, then bike the rest of the way. You save time and money, plus you get the much needed exercise without spending on gym membership fees.
From my experience, safety on 2 wheels is simple. This is a growing list of tips to stay safe on the road. I will update this regularly.
1. Wear a helmet. It is the cheapest insurance you can get when biking.
2. Be visible. Use reflective vest, brightly colored clothing, or use blinkers, especially when biking at night. Use hand signals when turning. Being visible also means letting others know of your intentions. They can’t read minds you know.
3. Be alert. Watch out for vehicles that turn suddenly, for potholes on the road and for pedestrians who are not paying attention to the road when crossing.
4. Be a defensive driver. Do not put your life on the hands of other motorists. If you are unsure whether a car will give way to you, slow down or stop to avoid getting hit. Also, assholes are plentiful on the road. Don’t be a victim of one and don’t be one.
5. Use your common sense. Ask yourself, can the driver see me? If not, then use #4 and be defensive. Vehicles have blind spots and sometimes we are not visible to drivers.
6. Drive like you are driving a car. Follow road rules. They are for everyone and must be followed by everyone. Being on a bike does not exempt you from following road rules. It is also for your safety. Also, try to occupy the entire lane. By doing this, you are stopping the vehicle behind you from squeezing and pushing you to the side. See previous post here
7. Respect begets respect. Following #6, don’t be a jerk on the road and people won’t treat you like a jerk. Remember, you are on a bike and they are in a car. You won’t stand a chance when someone swipes you off the road because you are being a douche on 2 wheels.
There is enough space on the road for everyone. Be careful, use your head and you will have a safe bike commute. 🙂