The One Thing That's More Important than Power on the Bike

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It's not all about going fast.

As anyone who has been in a bike crash can attest, when it comes to cycling, safety is as important—if not more so—than fitness. There are several easy things cyclists can do to be safe when heading out for a ride. 

Regardless of whether you ride one day a month or all year long, our 14 simple tips below will get you home safe, as well as help prevent accidents and injuries that could keep you from getting to the start line of your next race. Find more tips and guidelines at CycleSmart.

Think bright

It’s becoming a lot easier to find workout gear in an array of highlighter colors, and if you’re out on early morning training ride, those kits could actually save your life. We all know how easy it is to coast on auto-pilot when driving a car, without paying attention to our surroundings. The right combination of colors and equipment will alert drivers not only of your presence but that you are moving at a reasonable speed. It's really quite simple:

→ Wear bright colors that will increase your chances of getting noticed by drivers. 

→ Wear clothing and a helmet that will make you stand out from your surroundings. 

Light up your bike

If you are riding before daylight or after sunset, in addition to clothing, you should have have the proper lighting on your bike:

→ Make sure your bike has a white headlight and a red taillight that meet your state requirements, which usually means they should be visible from 500 feet. 

→ Check local laws in regards to reflectors, but typically you should have them on the spokes, pedals, and the fenders.

→ Keep extra batteries and reflective tape handy in case one of your lights goes out on the ride. 

→ Put reflective tape on your helmet and clothing and wearing reflective wristbands or ankle bands are smart additional measures to top up on safety. 

→ Lights that are continuously flashing will get even more attention, so don't be afraid to go big!

Ride in the correct lane

Contrary to what some new cyclists think, always ride with the flow of traffic. You are a vehicle. Familiarize yourself with your state and local laws and understand the rules of the road—yes, you can still receive a traffic citation on a bicycle. 

→ Ride in a predictable manner and in the "slow lane" if there is one available as you likely won’t be speeding along faster than traffic. 

→ Be sure not to swerve, make sudden stops, or turn without signaling. 

→ Be aware of your surroundings—you want to notice where cars are around you and you want them to see you too.

→ Stay focused, act like a car, and look, signal, then look again. 

→ Use hand signals to let drivers know where you plan to move and make eye contact as you signal, watching carefully as you make your move.

Never assume

When you are driving in your car you assume that other vehicles will see you. When you are cycling, that is not the case. You should never assume that you are going to be seen by drivers on the road. This will serve to make you a more defensive (aka safer) cyclist. Remember, a bike is a much smaller area for drivers to focus on than if you were in a vehicle. In fact, if you're going to make any assumptions, make them negative: 

→ The car inching up to the intersection is not going to wait for you.

→ The person getting out of their car ahead will open their door in your path. 

To learn more, visit CycleSmart.

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