Riding your bike to work? Follow these 5 safety tips

National Bike to Work Day is this Friday

Published: May 11, 2014 06:00 AM

The number of people who bike to work is up 60 percent over the last decade, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau. And I’m one of them. After I took a trip across the U.S. by bicycle in 2000, I decided if I can ride across the country, I certainly can ride across my county. Practically every day for the last 14 years, rain or shine, I've made the 20-mile round trip to the Consumer Reports’ office in Yonkers, N.Y., on my bicycle. If you want to see how many people in your area commute on two wheels, check out the interactive map, Census Explorer.

Biking to work has many benefits—you never get stuck in traffic and you don’t have to make time for the gym. If you’re intrigued, there’s no better time to try it than this Friday May 16, National Bike to Work Day. But before you go, be sure your bicycle has enough air in its tires and that the brakes are in working order. Next, take a few minutes to read these important safety tips.

1. Know where you’re going. You can get specific cycling directions to your office (or anywhere else) on Google maps.

2. Ride with traffic. It is a basic law of the road for all moving vehicles. Legality aside, it truly is safer for cyclists to ride with traffic than against it because: 1) cars pulling out of roads/driveways may not always look to the left before pulling onto a roadway so they would not see you coming, 2) the force of a collision when two objects approach each other in opposite directions is additive, and 3) you will have less time to react if a car comes at you head-on.

3. Wear a helmet. Although not mandatory for adults in most parts of the country, it is important to wear a well-fitting helmet. Helmets have been proved to reduce the incidence of head injuries by 85 percent in the event of a crash.

4. Make sure everyone can see you. Dress in bright and light colors. Also add lights and reflectors to your bike, especially in low light conditions.

5. Look out for road hazards. Besides potholes and road debris that could easily cause a fall, it is important for cyclists to be cognizant of parked cars. The best way to avoid getting “doored” by a car is to keep at least 3 feet distance between you and parked cars as you pass them.

—Karin Weisburgh

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