Helmets Are Not The Only Precaution To Increase Safety When Riding
We often forget the importance of safety while riding; it’s all well and good for protecting your head in the case of a collision, but what are the other ways I can protect myself while riding?
Well, there are many other ways you can use a precaution to increase safety while riding and wearing a helmet.
Helmets are a mandatory must-have while riding; they massively reduce the chance of brain injury in an accident; some are even equipped with MIPs to prevent your head from spinning as you fall.
But I have good news:
I am here to break down all the other precautions to consider when riding, so you can increase your safety to the maximum.
You won’t want to miss this.
Extra precautions to take to increase safety while riding:
Wearing a bike helmet is the top precaution you can take while riding a bike; it has many benefits; it protects your head from trauma and protects your spine from damage.
The helmet is not the only precaution to take to keep you safe while riding. Yes, a helmet will protect you from the chance of an accident but implementing these extra precautions will prevent the collision in the first place.
Countries like the Netherlands and Denmark have the lowest helmets because they use other safety precautions to keep riders safe on the road.
You should always consider personal safety on the road and safety of others while riding.
Here are my top picks:
Poor visibility to other road users is the top cause of accidents; motorists often miss cyclists as they’re in their blind spot.
80% of accidents actually happen during the day. This is because cyclists don’t usually use bike lights during the day nor wear fluorescent clothing as they assume they’ll be seen, which isn’t always the case.
Along with a bright helmet, you should also maybe invest in wearing bright colors or reflective clothing while you ride so you’ll never be missed on cloudy days or at night again.
Investing in a bike light is just as important as wearing a bike helmet and using it during the day as well a night time. It helps you see and helps you see (I would recommend getting one with a day mode that has a constant flashing).
Make sure you also invest in both front and rear lights.
Make sure you have a good road position:
Ensure you stay clear from the curb and give yourself a good distance between you and the sidewalk without being too far into the road.
You should keep away from all drainage areas, too, as, especially during the rainy seasons, it can be slightly flooded and slippery.
Make sure on a narrow road that you ride further away from the side of the road to prevent road users from overtaking you if it’s unsafe to do so, this will encourage motorists to stay behind you rather than trying to squeeze past.
Ensure you are aware of your surroundings, never ride with both headphones in, and keep an ear open to prevent the chance of missing a motorist and causing an accident.
Ensure all your intentions are clear, and always check behind you before you go to turn. Only Manoeuvre is safe and maintains a lane position that will prevent vehicles from undertaking you before you turn.
If you’re not quite confident looking behind you or taking your hand off the handlebar to signal, I would recommend practicing in a safe area free of traffic to build up your confidence.
Make eye contact:
This comes hand in hand with being seen; making sure you have made eye contact with the driver is so important as it ensures that the driver has seen you and anticipated what you’re going to do.
It also helps you work out whether or not the driver has seen you; it helps to avoid making assumptions about whether or not they’ve seen you and makes you prepared to use your brakes if necessary.
Don’t just rely on eye contact though, focus on other behaviors the driver is doing before making your decision; they may seem like they’re making eye contact, but you never know.
Use bike lanes if provided:
When riding, I would recommend choosing roads that are extremely wide or have dedicated bike lanes. Bike lanes are an excellent addition in busier cities to protect riders from the busy roads and allowing them a safe route to pass through traffic.
Any cyclist can use bike lanes but check local restrictions if you’re using an e-bike as it may restrict you from the use of bike lanes. I would also recommend opting for a quieter route if there are no dedicated bike lanes, especially in peak times.
Install rearview mirrors on your bike:
Now, this isn’t essential, but it will massively help, especially if you’re not completely confident turning around while riding.
Although learning to look over your shoulders is important as drivers may still get in your blind spot, getting yourself some mirrors will help you see what’s behind you at all times and will make you feel safer on the roads.
Protect yourself from the sun:
Although wearing sunscreen and sunglasses won’t protect you from accidents or make you more visible, it is just as important as any other precaution.
We often forget how powerful the importance of sunscreen, and we will get in with sunburn on our shoulders and neck after a long ride– we all know the feeling.
While riding, makes sure you top up your SPF and make sure you don’t miss any patches on your neck and shoulders. Also, make sure you’re wearing sunglasses and breathable clothing to keep you cool while you ride.
Ride with a buddy:
Riding with friends is not only fun and makes your ride more enjoyable, but it is also a good safety precaution.
In a case of an accident, if you’re riding with a friend, they can call emergency services; if you’re riding alone, it may be hours before someone finds you, especially when riding in the mountains.
Two or three cyclists are much more visible than one, so it improves visibility on the road, and you can also cycle next to one another to prevent drivers from overtaking on tight turns, narrow lanes, or anywhere you deem unsafe to overtake.
Carry a patch kit:
Every cyclist knows the frustration of going on a ride far away from home and then getting a flat, like seriously?
It always seems to happen when you’re quite a few miles out from home, and it can be the most frustrating thing for a rider.
This is why wherever I go, I will bring my patch kit to patch up any flat tires; it prevents you from being stranded in unsafe locations or locations far from home.
Patch kits come seriously in handy, especially if you love riding rougher terrains.
I would recommend going for patches that stick right over the whole without needing glue as it takes up less space, and it’s much quicker.
Check out all the essentials you should carry in your saddlebag here.
Always carry a mobile phone and ID:
If worst comes to worst and you’re riding on your own and find yourself in an accident, and you’ve lost consciousness, then carrying an ID or a cell phone can actually save your life.
It will help emergency responders identify you and know how to help you, whether you’re allergic to anything.
Or even if you forget your patch kit, your cell phone will come massively in handy to call someone to help. Even bringing a few dollars in cash may be useful as if you get a puncture, you can at least get a bus or cab home.
Make sure you always bring water:
If you’re a mountain biker and love spending fun-packed days down the trails or even use your bike for long commutes, then a water bottle is a MUST!
This will prevent you from getting dehydrated and will keep you rejuvenated on your ride. This is just a general rule of thumb for cycling.
If you’re looking for a cycling water bottle that is brilliant for all forms of riding, then check out my guide here.
Also, getting yourself a water bottle holder will massively help with carrying your water bottle on long rides with complete convenience.
Use body language and noise:
If eye contact fails, then always use body language such as waving your arm, yelling, ringing your bike bell, or try anything to get the driver’s attention.
This can also be said for riding down a bike lane, and a pedestrian is walking in the bike lane; ringing your bike bell will make the walker wake up and realize that they’re walking in the wrong place.
Ride with the traffic never against it:
Riding against traffic almost makes it impossible to make a right turn; riders are 4x more likely to get into road accidents when riding on the left side of the road in the US.
Drivers rarely look right for oncoming traffic when they turn, which is the common cause of accidents.
Know how to turn left:
You should either maneuver into the left lane like a car would or go through the green light and stop at the far end of the intersection and dismount your bike, using the pedestrian crossing.
You should do the second option on busier roads as it makes turning much safer and prevents the chance of an accident.
Make sure you’re also very vigilant in intersections; when coming to a stop, make sure you stay in the left lane so the drivers in front and behind can see you. Also, keep an eye out for red-light-runners before moving.
Be careful on uneven terrains:
Terrains such as loose gravel, ice, sand, and puddles can be very accident-prone for cyclists. Make sure you slow down and pass them carefully to prevent slipping or skidding.
This also goes for passing railroad tracks; they often run diagonally across the street rather than straight across. When passing a railroad track, make sure you slow down and angle your bike, so it is perpendicular to the tracks as you cross them to prevent losing control.
Safety statistics on using a helmet while biking:
A major study using 64,000 cyclists using a bike helmet has found that helmets reduce the risk of serious head injuries by almost 70%!
Helmets are designed to absorb shocks during collisions; most nowadays even come with MIPs to prevent your head from turning during an accident.
Wearing a helmet reduces 51% of head injuries, 69% of serious head injuries, 33% of facial injuries, and 65% of fatal head injuries.
These statistics massively prove the benefits and importance of using a helmet while riding; they’re crucial for protecting your head from trauma and shocks in the case of an accident.
When it comes to biking, there are many more precautions to take and riding a helmet. In some countries, helmets are barely worn because these precautions are much more efficient.
You should always wear a helmet as the terrain is very unpredictable; I would also recommend getting a full-face mountain bike helmet if you’re a downhill mountain biker.
All in all, as a general rule of thumb, you should wear a helmet and be visible on the road and make yourself known to other road users.
Stay safe, gang!