safety gear

Bike Safety: On and Off Road

Cycling is an easy and fun way to exercise every day. It can get you fit, save you money, it’s great for the environment and reduces congestion. It's also a wonderful way to enjoy some of America's most beautiful parkland and green spaces.

As a cyclist, you deserve respect on the road just like all other road users, but it's up to you to make sure you are as safe as possible.

Safety Gear

Regularly check that your bike is in good condition. This means checking that the brakes work, tires are properly inflated and the chain runs smoothly. Whether cycling on or off road, wearing a helmet helps to prevent head injuries and is a safety essential every time you ride. At night or when visibility is bad, always use reflectors and a front white light and red rear light.

Off-Road Cycling

When cycling off-road, for instance in a scenic national park, be sure to choose the correct route which doesn't mean sidewalks. Dedicated off-road routes and trails can be found all across the U.S. Some paths can be restricted to cyclists, so using dedicated routes means this won't be an issue.

When off-road, you must be considerate to others. Always give way to walkers and horses and take extra care when passing wildlife as animals can become easily startled.

Road Cycling

Even when you are on a bike, you must obey the traffic signals and always stop at stop signs.

Don't automatically use the same routes you take when driving. It's generally better and safer to take different streets that have fewer and slower vehicles. Cyclists have a right to be on the road, but if you get to know the local routes, you will discover that you can ride through neighborhoods and avoid busy streets.

In 2014, cyclists accounted for 2% of traffic deaths and 2% of all crash-related injuries. But you're less likely to get hit when motorists know what you are about to do. Let them know you're about to turn by signaling with your arm. Before signaling left, check your mirror, or look behind you in case a car is passing closely by.

When you're riding alongside other traffic, the fewer distractions the better. Riding with headphones increases your chance of having an accident, just like texting or talking on your phone. You also need to have your hands free in case you need to brake suddenly.

It's sometimes safer to ride a little bit to the left, rather than close to the right curb. Cars ahead of you at intersections will be able to see you better and this also stops cars from passing you too closely on narrow roads.

Share your tips for bike safety below!