Bicycle Safety Tips As The Unofficial Start Of Summer Arrives
With the official start of summer just around the corner, many people will dust off their bikes and hit the road. Bicycling is a healthy alternative to sitting in Atlanta traffic. However, it can be extremely dangerous. With drivers who are less attentive and traveling faster than ever, you must be acutely aware of your surroundings when you are riding a bicycle to have a safe and enjoyable ride.
Your senses are your best defense when riding a bike. You need to be able to see and hear everything around you. Therefore, a bicycle rider should not wear ear buds or headphones while riding. You need to be able to listen to the cars coming up from behind you. If anything is playing directly into your ears, whether it be loud, adrenaline pumping music, or an audiobook, you will be distracted by listening to the sounds playing in your ears rather than focusing on the road and your surroundings.
There are other safety precautions bicyclists should consider implementing before their next ride. Part of the danger of bicycle riding stems from riders who are not visible to the motorist. Wearing bright and colorful clothing can help you stand out. Also, having a flashing light on the handle bars and the seat which faces toward oncoming traffic will substantially increase visibility. Bicyclists should also consider:
- Wearing a wristband containing personal contact information, just in case of an emergency,
- Always wear a helmet,
- Stay on the right side of the road,
- Obey traffic laws,
- Stay hydrated. It is also a good idea to bring snacks along to keep your body fueled and help you avoid running out of energy,
- Wear protective eyewear. Bugs and debris in your eye can be very dangerous, especially at high speeds, and
- Be a courteous bicycle rider. Being courteous means riding on the proper side of the road, moving out of the way if a line of traffic forms behind you, and being conscious of how riding on a public street will affect the cars that encounter you.
Many drivers get nervous around cyclists, which, in turn, causes cyclists to do the same. It is harder for a cyclist to maintain a safe distance and speed if he or she has a car traveling alongside it. Although the driver may be cognizant of the dangers present when the driver of a driver encounters a bicyclist, such a situation is dangerous in an of itself. Motorists must remain at least three feet away from cyclists according to Georgia law. Also, a motorist must yield to a bike rider when the rider is in the designated bicycle lane.
Georgia's law theoretically creates a safer riding environment for bicycle riders. Riders are permitted to ride on soft shoulders of the road, but they are not forced to. Riders may not ride on sidewalks unless they encounter a hazard. Bike riders must always be on alert for debris on the ground, broken or uneven pavement, storm drains, sewer grates, manhole covers, parked cars, and motorists who open their doors into the road.
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