Bicycle Safety

Bicycling is a fun and healthy exercise. Before riding your bicycle on roadways, take time to learn the rules. Many bicyclists are seriously injured in accidents because they are less protected than drivers of automobiles and/or they do not practice safe riding skills.

The Smart Route to Bicycle Safety

Tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

Proper Equipment & Gear

  • Protect your head. Wear a helmet. For children, use the extra padding that comes with the helmet to ensure a proper fit. This padding can be removed as the child's head grows.
  • Assure bicycle readiness. Make sure your bicycle is adjusted properly. You should be able to stand over the top tube of your bicycle. Look at your bicycle owner's manual to help adjust the bike to you. Check to make sure all parts are working well. Add a carrier to your bike if you need to carry things.
  • Always check brakes before riding. Control your speed by using your brakes. Apply the rear brake slightly before the front brake. To adjust your brakes, consult your bicycle owner's manual or have a bicycle shop adjust the brakes.
  • See and be seen. Wear clothes that make you more visible (fluorescent or other bright colors during the day and reflective or retroreflective markings at night).
  • Avoid biking at night. If you must ride at night, ride with reflectors and the brightest lights you can find for the front and rear of your bicycle. Wear retroreflective clothing or add retroreflective material (not just white or fluorescent) to your clothes, especially on your ankles, wrists, back, and helmet. Young children should not ride at night.
  • Don't flip over your bicycle. If your bicycle has quick-release wheels, make sure they are firmly closed at all times and use the safety retainer if there is one. Check your wheels before every ride, after any fall or after transporting your bicycle.

Following Traffic Rules

  • Go with the flow. The safe way is the right way (with the flow of traffic) in a straight, predictable path. Always go single file in the same direction as other vehicles.
  • Check for traffic. Always be aware of the traffic around you. Be aware of vehicles backing out of driveways. Before you enter any street or intersection, check for traffic. Always look left-right-left. Always use hand signals and never enter a street until there is a break in the traffic.
  • Learn the rules of the road. Bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as motorists. Follow all traffic signs, laws and rules for operating a vehicle on the road. Always signal your moves. 
  • Be courteous to pedestrians and other vehicle operators.  Learn about bike lanes and bike paths in your area and take advantage of them whenever possible.
  • Stay alert. Never wear headphones while riding. Always keep a lookout for obstacles in your path. Watch for anything that could make you fall, such as :
    • Cracks
    • Drainage grates
    • Expansion joints
    • Potholes
    • Railroad tracks
    • Wet leaves
  • Before going around any object, scan ahead and behind for a gap in traffic. Plan your move and signal your intentions. If you are unsure of a rough area, pull off to the right side of the road and walk your bike around it.
McGruff and Scruff's Bike Safety Tips (GIF)
McGruff and Scruff's Bike Safety Tips Hand Signals (GIF)
How to wear a bike helmet (JPG)