Have a safe bicycle ride
The bicycle is one of the vehicles that has increased its use the most during the last decade. In some european countries in fact, the bike is the most used transport in the big cities, that is the case of Denmark and Holland. Those countries have a very developed bicycle infrastructure. Barcelona is increasing the number of bike lanes, putting the city closer the bicycle and viceversa. Although having bike lanes makes riding safer, there are a few recommendations to follow to increase safety even more.
Tips for safer bike rides
The next tips are oriented to reduce the risks of riding a bicycle inside a city, but some of them are so generic that can be applied to road riding or any kind of riding. Let’s have a look at them.
Respect the traffic signals
Bike lanes have their own traffic signals and signs, so if you are riding on a bike lane you must respect them. If you are riding on the street with other vehicles you must respect the traffic signs of that specific road: traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, stops… Respecting the traffic signals you will avoid unnecessary risks for you and other drivers and riders.
Indicate your manoeuvres in advance
One of the biggest disadvantages of bicycles is not having indicators/blinkers so the other vehicles can know in advance you are changing direction. For that reason it is really convenient, even more if density of traffic/riders is high, that you indicate with one hand when you want to change direction. If you are in a downhill o riding at high speed (and you don’t feel safe with only one hand on the handlebar because you need it for braking), a look back will allow you to make sure there are no vehicles behind you and if there’s any it will know you want to change direction precisely because you have looked back. If you don’t feel skillful enough to look back while riding neither indicate with your hand you can use your foot: it is less stylish but effective enough.
Avoid hard braking
Bicycles don’t have braking lights, so the rest of cyclists and vehicles can’t detect when you are reducing your speed till the difference of speed among you and them is big enough to be perceptible. In those cases and specially if the security distance is not big enough, is when we see crashes and run overs from behind. To avoid that reduce your speed slowly. If that speed reduction is due to a change of direction and you are indicating it, you are doing it perfectly.
To see and not be seen can work for animals in the jungle, but for cyclists the best is that the rest of the drivers can see you in the distance while you ride at night. A front and a rear light will help in increase your visibility further according to the regulation it is mandatory to equip lights for night rides. It is a good idea to wear reflectors in pedals and wheels.
Don’t ride with earphones
Ride listening to music is strictly forbidden according to the regulation. The main reason is that it limitates your ability to listen and detect other drivers or riders around you, so it increases the risk of accident.
Be careful with paint on the road and slippery surfaces
Specially during rainy days the paint of pedestrian crossings and lane lines are really slippery. Even though since a few years ago the paint has improved the grip, the best idea is not to step over them if we are cornering neither hard brake over them. Some surfaces that are dangerous too are tiles and painted surfaces (like in underground parkings) specially when they are wet.
Use a helmet
It looks too obvious to be here, but we must remember that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of severe damage if the head suffers an impact due to an accident. We recommend wearing a helmet in every trip, even the short ones.