Be a Defensive Rider this Summer!
The West is a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors, especially on a bike. Here are some simple tips to help keep you safe while cycling the roads this summer.
Ride defensively and predictably:
- Go with the traffic flow. Always ride on the right in the same direction as other vehicles.
- Obey all traffic laws. A bicycle is a vehicle on the road and must obey all traffic signs, signals and lane markings.
- Be predictable. Ride in a straight line, not in and out of cars. Signal moves to others.
- Stay alert and look before turning. Try to avoid using personal electronics when you ride as it hinders your ability to listen for traffic and avoid dangerous situations. Always look before turning to avoid being surprised by a red light runner or distracted driver.
- Watch parked cars. Ride far enough out from the curb to avoid the unexpected from parked cars (like doors opening or cars pulling out).
Wear the Gear
Proper cycling gear can not only be comfortable but will help keep you safe.
- Wear sun protection. Sunburns not only hurt your skin but contributes to fatigue. Wear sunscreen and clothing with built-in sun protection.
- Wear reflective gear. Especially wear reflective gear at dawn, dusk and dark hours of the day. And a great location to wear reflective gear is around your ankles – that way a driver will not only see you but recognize your movement as a cyclist. Also make sure your bike is equipped with a headlight, red tail lights or reflector and side reflectors all visible for at least 500 feet any time you ride before sunrise or after sunset.
- Wear bright clothing. Fluorescent or neon clothing helps drivers notice you during the day. Find riding gear that helps you stand out.
- Wear a helmet always. Just like hats, helmets come in various sizes so make sure you have a helmet that fits and is adjusted properly.
Beat the Heat
- Drinking cold fluids on your ride is not only more enjoyable but will help keep your core temperature down. Plan ahead before your ride and freeze one bottle at half full and another at the three-quarter mark. Then top them off and enjoy cool fluids on the ride. If using a hydration pack fill the pack half full and freeze.
- Before your ride, especially a big ride, increase consumption of watery fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, celery, lettuce, zucchini, grapes, grapefruit, strawberries, or watermelon.
- During long rides, it’s advantageous to sip on an electrolyte beverage to help the body rehydrate more quickly. If you need to cool off while riding, use cool water to wet your clothes, arms and or neck. On extra hot days don’t try to maintain your usual pace, instead ease up a bit to help counter the effects of the summer heat.
- Post ride, drink plenty of water or a protein-based recovery drink and a snack or meal.
A large percentage of crashes can be avoided if motorists and cyclists follow the rules of the road and watch out for each other. When riding in groups or with friends encourage others to ride safely. If you see unsafe behavior among fellow cyclists make sure to address it and educate friends and family, especially those who may not ride, on how to share the road with cyclists.
To learn more visit highwaysafety.utah.gov/pedestrian-and-bicycle-safety