Bike Safety on Busy Roads

Bike Safety for Busy Roads

Dec 6, 2016

At a time when we are seeing more bicycles on the road than ever before, we are also seeing more bicycle related accidents. Biking is an excellent mode of transportation for many reasons; they’re environmentally friendly, financially economical and provide a great source of exercise. However, for all of the many pros associated with cycling there still leaves room for cons such as accidents. As with many activities there is a certain level of risk associated with cycling on the road. To keep accidents to a minimum cyclists should always follow these five safety tips every time they mount their bike.  

 

1. Always assume you are invisible to cars

Car and bike collisions are very common and often result in the biker sustaining injury. It is sometimes difficult for the driver of a car to see an approaching cyclist and so the onus of awareness falls to the cyclist. Do not make quick and unpredictable movements while in traffic. Be as certain as you can that the drivers see you and never assume that you are in their line of sight. Cars have pretty big blind spots and an approaching bike may not catch their eye.

 

2. Wear a helmet

Helmets have been proven time and time again to save lives, so wear one. When cycling on a busy road you are left vulnerable to serious bodily harm in the event of an accident. Don’t be concerned with your hairstyle, be concerned with arriving at your destination in one piece.

 

3. Wear bright clothing, especially at night

There is no greater danger than cycling at night with dark coloured clothing. As bikes are difficult to see in the dark it is up to the cyclist to make themselves visible to cars. Don’t wait until a car hits you to see you, wear brightly coloured clothing and be sure to have reflective tape on your bike as well as lights for night riding.

 

4. Do not use headphones

Riding a bike is not the same as driving a car. In a car if you have music playing you can still hear sounds in your surroundings. On a bicycle you don’t have a speaker system and are left only with headphones to provide you with music. This is immensely dangerous as you may not hear someone yelling a warning to you, a car honk or any other possible warning signs you may need in order to avoid danger. Be smart about cycling and wait until you are at your destination to listen to your favorite song.

 

5. Do not operate a cell phone

The same rules apply to cyclists as motorists; do not operate a cell phone while operating your vehicle. This is especially important for cyclists to remember as their hands are required at all times for steering and braking. More and more cycling accidents are the result of cell phone usage while biking. This is entirely preventable and should not continue to cause accidents.

 

Understand that when you take to the road as a cyclist you are taking your own life into your hands. Be aware of what is around you and follow the rules of the road. Be as visual as possible to your fellow drivers and everyone can live harmoniously on the same roads!

Winter Biking

Biking in Winter

Nov 15, 2016

Ottawa is an excellent city for cyclists. There are over 600 km’s of bike paths available in the National Capital Region. Many of these paths are not maintainable during winter months, however Ottawa is committed to maintain approximately 40 km of bike paths every winter.

 

It is no small undertaking for the city of Ottawa to maintain these 40 km of bike paths. Ottawa typically has fairly aggressive winter’s and boasts quite a bit of snow during winter months. Even though temperatures can reach a shivering -40C there is still a large group of people who choose to hop on their bikes and go to work instead of hopping in a car or on a bus.

 

For those extreme cyclists who choose to bike during the winter months there are some things they can do to make their commute easier and safer. Drivers change the tires on their cars to provide better traction in winter conditions; cyclists should do the same. Bicycle winter tires are a safety must for any cyclists who wishes to brave the Ottawa winter roads and bike paths.

 

Winter cyclists should take further safety precautions beyond bicycle winter tires. Brightly coloured winter jackets are necessary for visibility by drivers. Wearing white or black jackets are both poor colour choices for winter winter cycling. Choose bright colours like orange or yellow to provide maximum visibility for your own safety. It’s also important to have a breathable jacket. Biking in the winter can be physically exhausting and the last thing you want to do on a cold winter day is sweat. If you sweat while moving at intense speeds you will freeze and possibly get sick when you slow down and the sweat has time to freeze. Wearing a jacket with proper vents for winter activity will allow you stay warm but also ventilated to prevent excessive sweat.

 

If your route is of the 40 km’s of bike lanes plowed by the city in the winter then biking to work or for fun is a great idea. However if you are forced to bike on the road in winter conditions perhaps consider a different mode of transportation as the winter roads are dangerous enough with just cars to worry about. Slippery conditions can be excessively dangerous for a biker, and with narrowed roads due to snow piles there is not always enough room for a safe bicycle commute.

 

Winter safety is very important to remember for all modes of transportation, but especially for cyclists. Winter biking can be fun and rewarding as long as the right precautions are taken such as bicycle winter tires, proper safety gear and general awareness of road safety.

Bike Safety for Kids

Bike Safety for Kids

Oct 25, 2016

We all want our children to be healthy and live active lives. Cycling is a fantastic family friendly activity that can get everyone outdoors and in better shape. Before you take your children out on the bike paths, be certain to check the following 5 safety tips to ensure safe travels wherever you go.

 

1. Proper size bike

Most bikes are adjustable to accommodate for growth over time. Take time to properly fit your child’s seat and handlebars to their height. If your child outgrows their bike be certain to invest in a new one to ensure safety. It’s equally important to not have a child ride a bike that is too big for them.

 

2. Helmet safety

In Ontario it is law that anyone under the age of 18 is required to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. Although it is not law for anyone over the age of 18 to wear a helmet it is good practice. Especially for parents to provide a good safety example for their children.

 

3. Teach proper signaling

The best way to ensure your children will be safe operating a bicycle on the road is to teach them at a young age about proper signaling and road safety. If you arm your children with the proper left, right and stop hand signals at a young age and teach them how to safely make turns on the road they will be safe travellers for life.

 

4. Teach proper cycling attire

Along with your child’s first bike be sure to give them plenty of brightly coloured clothing. Teaching them at a young age that visibility on the road is important could potentially save their lives one day. Reflectors and flashing lights added to the bike are always a fantastic extra safety touch. Take your child on a shopping trip and have them pick out some of their own bike safety gear!

 

5. Always have a bell

With the absence of a horn, bikes require a means to alert cars and pedestrians to their oncoming. Having a bell loud enough to be heard could be key to avoiding serious accidents. It is also a helpful tool in alerting slower cyclists of your desire to pass them on a bike lane.

 

Bicycling is not only fantastic exercise but it is also an excellent source of exercise for children and adults alike. Teaching children at a young age the safe way to ride on the road and on designated bike paths is the best way to ensure their safety as they grow up.