There is no denying that road cycling can be dangerous, but it doesn't have to be if you take the proper precautions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 818 cyclists were killed in collisions with motor vehicles in 2014. That is an average of two cyclists killed per day. So what can you do to ensure you stay safe on the road?
Cyclists are at a far greater risk of being killed or seriously injured on the road than motorists. So it's clear they need to have their wits about them. Being visible is paramount when you're on the road. Wearing high visibility clothing such as hi vis jackets, vests and armbands are simple ways to get yourself noticed. If other drivers can't see you, they can't give you the room you need. That's not to say that other road users will always give you space. But that's another matter entirely.
It's always best to have lights on the front and rear of your road bike—just like a car. Depending on the situation, you might want lights on both the front and rear. This will ensure that drivers see you coming and are able to brake before you. This is especially important during evening and nighttime hours. When there may be more motorists on the road and visibility is lower than during the day.
Road cycling doesn't start and end at the curb. You also need to maintain your bike. Check the fluids. Don't be caught without an extra tube or tire pump. A flat tire is one of the most common breakdowns of a road cyclist. Although annoying, punctures can be avoided by staying away from debris while on the road. This isn't always an option but keeping this in mind will help you avoid the risk of a puncture when possible.
When you ride, you want to be sure your bike is ready to go. With that in mind, you can make sure your brakes are working and ready for action. Brake testing is an essential part of maintaining your bike. It's wise to invest the time to do a proper brake check before setting out. Whether you need to adjust the bike's tension, adjust the friction, or check for an improved braking power. A brake check will help you ensure the best possible stopping power.
Whether you plan to ride one to many miles every week or just to and from work, a properly fitted bike helmet is an absolute must. You need to make sure that you are wearing a helmet. Otherwise you may face hefty fines. Always inspect your bicycle helmet before you head out on a ride and when you finish. You need to be sure it is in good working order. A damaged helmet may not offer any protection due to a structural weakness. A bike helmet in good order with an approved safety rating can save your life.
The basics of roadworthiness are pretty simple. The first step is making sure your bike is in working order. This can include things like checking the tires and changing the brake pads if need be. It also includes things like a careful inspection of the frame, making sure it's welded, and everything is fixed properly.
If you're in the market for a new bike, check out our Best Road Bikes buyers guide.
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