Bike Smart, Ride Safe

national bike month

There’s nothing better than a brisk bike ride. It’s fun, environmentally friendly and great exercise to boot. But, like with any mode of transportation, you need to make sure to keep safety in mind while on two wheels.

Did you know? AAA Northeast offers 24-hour roadside assistance for your bike, too! The free service is available to all members. Learn more.

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Helmets

Wearing a helmet is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself when riding a bike.

American bike fatalities reached 966 in 2021, according to the most recent research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with head injuries being the leading cause of death and serious injury.

When you put on your helmet, make sure the visor sits about 1 to 2 inches above your brow, and that the chin strap is snug, but not constricting. If you can fit no more than two fingers in between your chin and the strap, you’re good to go.

Check out these easy steps to properly fit a bike helmet.

You might not love the way you look in a helmet, but looks don’t matter when your life is on the line.

national bike month

Biking while drunk

If you wouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car, you shouldn’t get behind the handlebars of a bike. The most recent stats reported by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety show that 18% of cyclists killed in traffic crashes in 2020 were legally drunk.

Biking in the dark

Bike deaths peak from 6 to 9 p.m., but why is that? Visibility is important on the road, especially when drivers and bikers are sharing the same streets. During the day, you don’t have to worry too much about seeing and being seen, especially if it’s spring or summertime. However, as the day gets duskier, it’s more difficult for drivers to spot cyclists darting across or on the side of the street. If you’re going to be biking during this time, there are tons of bike accessories that will help make you more visible, like clip-on lights and reflective tape. The most common (and perhaps easiest) method is to wear a reflective vest.

Sharing the road

Cyclists: Sharing the road with cars is dangerous, but it’s often necessary. Riding on congested sidewalks puts pedestrians in danger, and it’s actually illegal in some cities. Bike on the right side of the road (just like when you drive) and stay around 2 to 3 feet away from the curb. Be careful when you’re driving past parked cars – you never know when someone could open a door and clothesline you. Remember to stop at stop signs and red lights, just like someone in a car would.

Drivers: When you spot a cyclist, give them a wide berth. You’re driving something that weighs over 4,000 pounds, while cyclists are balancing on a 15-pound machine powered by their own legs. They don’t have the benefit of a car’s safety systems, and if there’s a crash, they’re probably going to get hurt. If there’s a bike lane in your city, don’t park in it. This forces cyclists to dart unexpectedly into traffic lanes. You also should not be driving in the bike lane, even if you’re just edging in by a foot or two. There could be cyclists in your blind spot, and even the cyclists that you can see are too close for comfort.

Click here for more tips on sharing the road.

What are some ways you stay safe while cycling? Let us know in the comments below!

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5 Thoughts on “Bike Smart, Ride Safe

  1. Rail trails are great places to ride. AAA needs to include them as destinations in the Travel/Tour Guidebooks. It is important to know where to park and safely access the trails.

    1. Hi John!

      Thanks so much for the comment. I’ve passed it onto the folks who publish the TourGuides.

      Happy cycling!

      -Dana

  2. As a bike rider the one thing the annoys me the most are bikers who ride 2 abreast. I live in a somewhat rural area, but that does not mean this is acceptable. Also, not wearing reflective clothing of some sort near sundown, trouble there folks.

  3. I would love to see a partnership with AAA and some local bike shops offering low-cost tune-up for one’s bicycle. It would enhance safety and bring them business. Thx

    1. Hi Richard!

      What a great idea! I’m going to pass on your ideas to some of my colleagues.

      Happy riding!
      -Dana

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