Mounting biking, BMX grinding, hybrid cruising, street racing—it doesn’t matter what bike you have or what you’re using it for, because cycling is inherently risky.
It’s important to ensure your health and physical safety before you leave the house every single time with a checklist for you and your bike.
Take a look at this bicycle safety checklist to make sure you’re really thinking of every possibility, and being prepared for them. Bicycle maintenance is a heavy theme here, because oftentimes, a lot of trouble can be avoided if you stay up-to-date on taking care of your bike.
If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of the bicycle safety checklist, we got you covered:
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- 1 Can Cycling Be Dangerous?
- 2 Safety Measures to Keep in Mind
- 3 Cycling Safety Equipment
- 4 Cycling First Aid
- 5 Keep Track of the Weather
- 6 Emergencies and Repair
- 7 Be Proactive, Be Secured
Can Cycling Be Dangerous?
Walking from your kitchen to your bathroom can be dangerous… if you fall.
Riding a bike can be dangerous, you know, if you take a spill or have a major accident. Commuting to work is arguably more dangerous than riding a bicycle.
So the question of can it be dangerous is a bit off-putting: everything can be dangerous, but if you take safety as importantly as you should, then even the harshest of spills isn’t going to cause major damage. We’re going to explain a healthy dose of bicycle safety without making you look like a kneepad on wheels.
Safety Measures to Keep in Mind
These quick safety measures will help keep you in check when you go to ride your bike, wherever that may be.
Anyone Can Fall
How is this a safety measure?
Because before we talk about anything, it’s important to get out of your own head and realize that despite your skill level, you’re still susceptible to bodily harm and mistakes.
Everyone makes them. Don’t walk into this with an ego.
Assume Everyone on the Road is Dumb, Except Yourself
If you’re riding a mountain bike for a half-mile to get to the trail from your house, or if you’re commuting, racing, whatever the case may be, you need to get into a defensive mindset while riding.
It doesn’t have to take the relaxing edge off of your ride, either: you can simply be conscious of how close you are to the edge of the sidewalk, avoid bike lanes (since they’re incredibly dangerous half the time), and have the right safety gear on your bike to be as visible as possible to drivers and other cyclists.
Keep an Eye Out for Parked Cars
Especially when glares hit taillights, or if a car is operating with faulty lights, you can’t always see when a parked car is going to back out and potentially hit you.
You want to pay close attention to parked vehicles, see if anyone is driving them, and when you can, you should just stay far away from them even if it means taking a longer path.
The danger isn’t in the car hitting you quite as much as it is from the driver not noticing you and continuing to back up even after tapping your bike.
Avoid Tight Corners
Urban cycling means you’ll encounter a lot of buildings, parking lots, narrow alleys and odd spots to get from point A to point B. That’s okay, but you need to watch those corners.
In tighter scenarios, pedestrians will be around and it’s unlikely that they’ll hear you thanks to the quiet glide of your bike.
Don’t Use Headphones Around Danger
Around parked cars, crossing the street, or anything else like that? Leave the headphones off. Not just turned off, but not over your ears at all.
Audio indicators can really help you when you’re trying to locate where a sound is coming from, and for all you know that sound could be something right around the corner. Plus vehicles will be able to get your attention by beeping and you’ll be able to hear them.
Alright, now that there are some basic safety guidelines in place, let’s talk about the gear you should be using to stay as safe as possible.
Cycling Safety Equipment
The gear you choose matters more than you might think.
We’re going to talk about some that seem obvious, like helmets, and then get into some more intricate pieces of safety gear. Whether you like it or not, you’re riding a vehicle around, and one that can get in the way of motorists, motorcyclists, and other cyclists if you aren’t careful and visible.
These are investments in your health and wellbeing.
Rotational Impact-Absorbing Helmet: It’s not just enough to have a helmet of some sorts. You want the gold standard, which is why you need a rotational damage impact helmet, which helps protect you from more fall angles and through rougher spills and crashes.
Helmets are the first piece of safety gear that anyone thinks of when they think about cycling, and for good reason. Don’t cheap out when it comes to your helmet.
Daylight and Nighttime Lighting: Visibility is the name of the game. We think about reflectors being enough during daytime excursions, but the truth is that it’s often not enough.
If you want to stay safe, you need a singular light that can switch between daytime lighting and nighttime lighting. Have a dull light during the day has been proven to reduce traffic-related cycling incidents by a staggering and sobering percentage, and of course, that visibility at night is a literal life-saver.
Bell or Digital Horn: There are slimline, low-profile bells for bicycle handlebars that have been created so you’re not hindering the aesthetics of your bicycle, but the functionality is something that is truly fantastic.
You can be heard when you can’t be seen, like when a car is pulling out of a spot and you can’t seem to move out of the way, or if there are other cyclists that you’re coming up near and they’re listening to earbuds. You have to get through to them somehow.
Reflective and Flexible Shoes: Your cycling shoes should provide excellent support, but beyond the support, you also want to have breathability and flexibility so that you can stay on top of your movement for the entire ride. You can find flexible, bendable shoes that have excellent reflective properties on the hells.
These are better than reflector panels, especially since we’re going to use that light that we mentioned earlier, and it’s not something you even have to think about. You just slip the shoes on, and you’re literally walking in a safety precaution.
Wheel Stripes: We’re not trying to turn you into a sparkling windmill of light, but like we said earlier, daytime light is important.
Sunlight, refracted light, and headlight reflections will all play off of your wheel stripes. You can get them in certain designs that don’t look hideous or unappealing on your bicycle as well.
Wireless Bicycle Turn Signal: More lights? Yeah, more lights. You can use whichever lights on your bicycle that you feel comfortable with, but among those you should be able to use a wireless turning signal to let motorists not only know where you are, but where you’re going.
Even if motorists get annoyed with it, it’s still safer for you to do. And hey, if it’s eye-catching, it’s keeping you safe.
Bike Chain Guard: This isn’t mentioned enough, but a guard or something to prevent your clothing and shoe laces from getting eaten up by the chain is extremely important as well. You should be able to ride your bike in any way that you want without fear of your clothing being a problem, so low-profile and lightweight chain guards are going to be your best bet.
High Quality Handlebar Grips: No traction on the handlebars means you’re going to make a mistake. You want full control over your bike, especially on those days where you’re still in a bit of a haze during a commute, or still shaky from waking up in the tent on a mountain biking trip. Traction and control help with safety, it’s as simple as that.
Cycling First Aid
Can you imagine carrying an entire, full-sized first-aid kit with you on your bicycle?
That is excessive, which is why having a handy travel-sized first-aid kit with about a quarter of the necessities of a full-sized first-aid kit is important.
The goal is to be able to cover up scrapes, use antibacterial ointment, and prevent infections after an injury, and make sure you’re patched up well enough to get home or to a hospital depending on the severity of the situation. A compact kit that’s no larger than a dopp bag will do, and it won’t take up much space in your backpack at all.
Keep Track of the Weather
You know how to handle yourself in the rain and unkind conditions, but we’re talking about big things: storms, floods, high winds, potential mudslides, things like that.
Depending on how you ride and what type of bike you ride, you can gauge your level of concern as needed. If it’s just stroll down the lane on pavement and back to the house again, you won’t have to worry too much.
For mountain bikers, it’s good to have an emergency radio with stations that monitor hurricanes, tornadoes, and storm watches so that you can be warned if you’re on, say, a two-day mountain biking trip and you had no news of the storm prior. These really come in handy, and are essential to safety.
You have to think that while you might get a notification on your phone, being out in the wilderness can mess with cell phone reception, so having that radio is going to be much more reliable for emergency broadcasts concerning the weather.
Emergencies and Repair
Nobody wants to get stranded during a bike ride.
To prevent this from being a problem, you need something for emergency repairs, so we’re going to go down a quick list of what you can use to repair your bike on-the-fly and get home safely.
In adverse weather conditions or when the sun goes down and visibility is limited, you want to have a way to quickly and safely get home.
Tire Pump: Flats happen, and you lose air pressure just from riding. You want to keep your tires at optimal pressure for better riding and safer handling, so keep a miniature foot pedal bike pump handy in your backpack if you have the option.
Tire Patch Kit: Sprung a leak? Well, that tire pump is going to get put to use again. You can patch up your tires on the go, pump them back up, and get home safely. You know, presumably to order more times and then get a good night’s sleep.
Cash and Identification: In the event that your bike has broken down and you’re walking it back, and God forbid the worst happens, you want identification, allergy information, medical info and anything else essential to be handy. Keep this in your wallet in a designated sleeve, or consider getting backpacks with ID pockets, or a bracelet that identifies medical conditions.
Basic Tool Kit: What tools do you need for the chain, the seat, or removing the tires? Have one of each of those in a small kit, as well as a flashlight or LED battery bank or something along those lines so you can actually see what you’re doing when making repairs.
You want to be prepared for everything. Yes, you will add a bit to your riding weight with all of this, but they each serve a purpose and help you stay safe.
Be Proactive, Be Secured
Safety should be your number one concern.
One bad spill is all it takes to keep you off the cushioned saddle for weeks on end, so if for no other reason, keep your safety in check so your riding isn’t interrupted.
Once you get in the habit of going over your own bicycle safety checklist, it will become second nature. You’ve got this.