|Click Photo - Flashlight with Mount|
- Always wear a helmet and make sure its buckled while riding.
- Visibility is key. Always wear bright colored clothes. I wear a bright orange t-shirt and have a bright orange camel-bak when I need to carry stuff. If you are riding in the evening, early morning or late at night make sure you have lights and reflectors. A decent flashlight with a bicycle mount works well as a headlight. It won't cost nearly as much as a light marketed as a bicycle headlight. For example, I use a very high powered flashlight with a mount I bought for under $12.
- Ride your bike like you are driving a car. This means to follow all the same traffic rules you would driving an automobile.
- Keep your mobile phone in your bag where it belongs while you are riding. I've lost track of the number of people I've seen talking on their phone, or texting while riding a bicycle. THIS IS DANGEROUS!!! Especially on popular routes with traffic. I'm astonished at the number of people I see riding or driving while texting and swerving all over the place. None of this Pokemon stuff on your bike please. Headphones are also almost always a bad idea. They may not even be legal in certain areas.
- Watch out for less thought about hazards. There are many dangers to be aware of while on the road, or trail. One of the most frequent dangers of trail riding are animals (rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, deer, etc.). I have animals jump out in front of me on a daily basis.
Animals are unpredictable and can cut back in front of your wheel in an instant. I've actually accidentally run over squirrels because they panic and run back and forth. It would be a tragedy if one was heading down a hill at speed and a groundhog ran into the spokes of the front wheel.
A few years ago I was going 25mph and a deer jumped out of the bushes, ran along side me then cut right in front of me. I could have been seriously injured or even killed if it ran into me at that, or any speed.
Dog walkers on bike paths are also very dangerous. I've come to the realization that most people do not train their dogs and use really long training leashes to walk their dog. You have to watch out that you don't get tangled in these things.
Another danger while on the trail are hidden holes, sticks, roots, rocks, and other debris. Take it from me, its no fun when you are cruising along on an overgrown and a hidden stick flips up into your spokes causing you to fly over the handlebars.
Depending on the areas you ride in walkers could also be a potential hazard. Be familiar with the people on the path and the path etiquette in the area. For example, while riding in Western NY with my nephew I noticed the people on the bike path along Lake Erie don't know the simple rules of multi-use paths. When a biker comes from behind and passes while saying, "on your left", this means they are passing you on the left. It does not mean jump to the left in front of my bike and run me off the path.
This is a very different than riding on the W&OD in Virginia where people are very knowledgeable, away and respectful of others on the trail. Most people know what it means when you say, "on your left", and will move to the right or stay put. You sill have to watch out for children, and pets however.
- Always use hand signals while on the road and/or when riding in a group.
Please ride safe!!
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