Basic Bike Safety

Since 2014, in Los Angeles, more than 180 bicyclists lost their lives when colliding with motor vehicles in and around Los Angeles. More than 50,000 bicyclists suffer serious injuries in such collisions nationally. Understanding some basic bike safety might help you better avoid accidents in the future.

As bicycles increase in daily use for Americans, it is incumbent on bike riders to not just know their rights, but how to be a part of the traveling ecosystem, along with motor vehicles and pedestrians. Bicycle riders have the same responsibilities as motor vehicles, as well as the same rights. Making safer choices is always an option when riding a bike.

Avoiding Accidents

Most bicycling deaths occur, statistically, between 6 and 9 PM, and more often in urban areas. One in four fatal bicycle crashes in the year 2019 involved an inebriated cyclist (one who had been drinking alcohol). A few tips to ride safely:

  • Make sure the bike is your size, and therefore easy to control
  • Wear visibility and protective gear
  • Don’t carry anything in your arms while riding – use a backpack or strap it to the back of the bike
  • Tie your shoelaces
  • Plan your route

Wearing a Helmet

Helmets might seem an obvious choice, but many people forego them for personal reasons, putting them at risk of severe injury or even death in an accident. Most important about a bike helmet is that it should fit you – the better it fits, the more it can protect you. Sizes can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so be sure to assess your proper size before buying one.

Driving Defensively

Driving defensively is just as it sounds – staying alert and focused so that you can be the first person to avoid or pull yourself away from an accident. Anticipating the moves of those around you is key – other bikers, motor vehicles, pedestrians, animals, faulty roads – there are countless potential obstacles on the road for bicycles. A few good general guidelines:

  • Drive in the same direction as traffic
  • Obey all street signs and lights, road markings and signals, just as you would if you were driving a car
  • Don’t get distracted – listening to music or anything else that keeps your ears, eyes, or mind off the task at hand will distract you. You need to keep all senses on the road and analyze traffic
  • Always assume the other person cannot see you
  • Keep an eye out for obstacles that can get in your way

Becoming a Better Bike Rider

If you’re just learning how to ride a bike, or even if you want to up your skill level, driving in a park or somewhere else away from traffic can help. There may also be classes you can take to get better and safer at riding a bike.


Bicycles are often an afterthought for distracted drivers. They don’t think about them until they see them, which is often too late. As a bike rider, it’s your job to stay alert and keep yourself and those around you safe.

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