Sharing the Road: 8 Tips to Know as a New Biker on the Go

Waseem Jalal

Whether you’ve just bought your first bicycle or have recently started using it for daily commuting, understanding how to share the road safely is crucial. As a new biker, you need to be aware of the rules, best practices, and potential hazards while navigating alongside motor vehicles and pedestrians. This article will provide you with eight essential tips to ensure a smooth and secure biking experience.

1. Know and Follow Traffic Laws

As a cyclist, you are considered a vehicle on the road and must obey the same traffic laws as motorists. This means stopping at red lights, yielding at stop signs, using appropriate hand signals for turns, and maintaining the correct direction of traffic flow. Familiarize yourself with local biking regulations and road signs to ensure compliance. Adhering to traffic laws not only keeps you safe but also enhances predictability for drivers, minimizing the risk of accidents.

2. Always Wear a Helmet

Protecting your head is paramount when biking. Invest in a high-quality helmet that meets safety standards and wear it every time you ride. Helmets significantly reduce the risk of head injuries in case of a collision or fall. Make sure the helmet fits snugly and sits level on your head. Straps should be adjusted to form a “V” shape under your ears, ensuring the helmet stays securely in place.

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3. Be Visible and Use Lights

Visibility is critical, especially during low-light conditions or at night. Equip your bike with a front white light and a rear red light to ensure you’re visible to drivers and pedestrians. Reflectors and reflective clothing are also essential to increase your presence on the road. Wearing bright, fluorescent colors can further enhance your visibility during the day.

4. Ride in the Right Position

When cycling on the road, it’s essential to position yourself properly. Ride in a straight line and stay to the right side of the lane, but not too close to the curb. Maintaining a consistent lane position helps drivers anticipate your movements and prevents the temptation for them to pass too closely. Avoid riding in the “door zone” near parked cars, as suddenly opening doors can be a significant hazard.

5. Be Cautious at Intersections

Intersections are high-risk areas for cyclists. Always approach intersections with caution, even if you have the right of way. Make eye contact with drivers whenever possible to ensure they see you. Be extra careful when making left turns, as you’ll need to cross multiple lanes of traffic. If there are dedicated bike lanes or marked bike boxes at intersections, use them to increase your visibility and safety.

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6. Watch Out for Car Doors

One common and potentially dangerous situation for cyclists is getting “doored” by a parked car. Always keep a safe distance from parked vehicles, at least three feet, to give yourself time to react if a door suddenly opens. Stay alert and scan the inside of parked cars for any signs of movement or passengers about to exit. However, despite your best efforts, accidents can still happen. 

If you find yourself in a “dooring” situation, you should know what to do after a bike accident. First and foremost, check yourself for injuries and assess your condition. Move to a safe location away from traffic if you can do so without causing further harm. Once you are in a safe place, call the police and exchange information with any involved parties.

7. Stay Aware of Surroundings

Maintaining situational awareness is crucial while cycling. Avoid wearing headphones or anything that might distract you from the road and traffic. Be aware of your surroundings, including other road users, pedestrians, and obstacles. Look ahead to anticipate potential hazards, such as potholes, debris, or sudden stops from vehicles in front of you. Keeping a safe distance from the vehicle ahead allows you to react promptly to sudden braking or emergencies.

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8. Be Predictable and Communicate

Predictability is vital for safe road sharing. Signal your intentions clearly and well in advance of turns or lane changes. Use standard hand signals to indicate your movements, and make eye contact with drivers when possible to ensure they understand your intentions. Avoid sudden swerves or maneuvers that may surprise other road users. Remember to also signal when you plan to merge into traffic or change lanes, providing other drivers with ample time to adjust their speed and position.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, as a new biker, following these eight tips will help you navigate the roads safely and confidently. Remember that sharing the road is a collective responsibility, and both cyclists and motorists must be aware and respectful of each other. You can enjoy your biking experience while staying safe on the go. Happy cycling!

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