Is there any sport more rewarding than cycling? It’s hard to deny the thrill of hopping in the saddle, cranking out the miles and feeling the cool breeze through your hair, preferably somewhere scenic. On top of that, cycling is one of the best and most efficient ways to get a full-body workout. According to Harvard Health, you can burn up to 355 calories during a half hour of cycling at a speed of about 12 to 14 miles per hour, all while strengthening your muscles and conditioning your heart.
One key thing that differentiates cycling from other forms of exercise is speed. Sure, you might hit a pretty good clip jogging through the park or swimming laps in the pool, but the reality is that very few sporting activities put you at speeds of between 10 to 19 miles per hour alongside motorists moving even faster, all in a day’s ride. Speed — coupled with potentially dangerous and highly varied terrain — brings a few distinct safety considerations to the table, which all cyclists should understand.
Unfortunately, bicyclist accidents are on the rise, with fatalities reaching an all-time high in recent years. But that’s not to say you should be scared to ride. Most of these accidents have a few commonalities in terms of where they occurred, how they occurred and when they occurred. If you understand the data in detail, you’ll be able to arm yourself with the proper knowledge and safety gear to stay safe in the saddle.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), bicycle fatalities fall into two categories — falls and accidents involving cars. All cyclists are at a higher risk of both kinds of accidents when one or more of the following three things is at play.
What does this information tell us? There’s no reason to stay off the road if you love to cycle and are willing to take preventative measures to stay safe. Knowing why, when and where the risk is greatest and doing your best to minimize it is the best course of action.
Like anything in life, minimizing cycling risks comes down to prevention. At ROAD iD, we want to equip you with the best bicycle safety gear and tips, including a top-quality medical alert bracelet, to help ensure that you’re as safe as possible with every mile you log.
For the safest possible cruising, you want to make sure your gear game is, well… in high-gear. The fact of the matter is that wearing the proper safety equipment saves lives, and it doesn’t take a ton of time, money or effort to equip yourself with this potentially life-saving layer of protection. Spend the time to invest in the following items before you head out for your next ride.
The single most important piece of safety equipment for a cyclist is his or her helmet. A high-quality, properly fitting helmet can seriously reduce the severity of a brain or head injury in the event of an accident. But you need to be sure your helmet fits properly or it may not offer the right amount of protection.
If your helmet is the most important piece of safety gear in your cycling safety arsenal, your bike is the runner-up! It has a major impact on the safety, stability and comfort of your ride, and you need to do everything you can to ensure that it’s properly equipped for whatever terrain you plan to traverse.
Make sure you carry with you some form of identification to enhance safety in all scenarios. The simplest way to do this is via a cycling ROAD iD bracelet that contains your most crucial personal information, including your name, phone number and important medical information. These bracelets can serve as diabetic jewelry or be worn to inform of allergies and disabilities, indicating to first responders that you may need special care.
In addition to the terrain, environment and outside elements like motorists, there’s one big factor that can contribute to on-the-road safety — your bike! The last thing you want to do when gearing up for a long ride is take your bike’s safety for granted. Instead, make sure you spend a few minutes beforehand inspecting every element of your bike.
Before you head out, you want to give your bike an inspection from the ground up, beginning where the rubber meets the road.
You never want to find yourself in a situation where you’re cruising at top speeds and don’t have a reliable braking mechanism. Before you head out, be sure to squeeze your brake levers — both in the front and rear — multiple times to ensure that they are working properly. Malfunctioning brakes don’t necessarily need to be swapped out entirely. You may be able to tweak and adjust the discs yourself to enhance performance.
Never mount your bike without giving the chain and gears a good once-over. It’s a good idea to make sure that your chain is properly lubricated by giving it a bit of oil before heading out for a long ride. A properly cleaned, maintained and lubricated bicycle gear system helps prevent wear, tear and rust while also ensuring that your drivetrain is in good shape. This helps keep you safe and protects the value of your bike for the long-term.
We all know what it feels like to ride on an ill-fitting bike. Besides being downright uncomfortable, it’s also quite unsafe. That’s because a poorly fitted bike can be extremely distracting and put you in a physically awkward position where you’re unable to control the pedals. At the same time, the wrong fit can put undue strain on your knees, back and ankles.
In addition to your gear and bike, the way you ride can have a massive impact on safety. Defensive cycling, like defensive driving, is a good approach to take to keep yourself out of harm’s way. However, unlike defensive driving, we don’t take complete courses on defensive cycling and we don’t have to pass a test on the subject in order to ride a bike. That means you must take the time required to master it yourself.
Cycling is one of the most efficient means of transportation, one of the finest ways to get fit and an incredible way to see a city or natural landscape. And when you spend a bit of time focusing on cycling safety and accident prevention, it’s also one of the safest ways to get around. Just make sure you’ve got the proper identification, gear and knowledge needed to stay out of harm’s way on your next ride.
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