There a variety of hazards and risks associated with cycling which can easily be prevented by following just a few safety tips.
1. Safety Gear
It really should go without saying that the necessary safety gear should be worn when cycling to prevent injuries that can result from falls. A safety helmet is absolutely essential to prevent head and brain injuries from occurring. Elbow and knee guards are also important to help avoid scratches, abrasions and bruises that could result from a tumble.
For those suffering from back pain or other strain and stress injuries, additional support may be necessary. Equipment to support the joints (especially the knees and ankles) will help prevent exacerbating an existing injury. A lumbar support (lower back) is ideal for those suffering from back pain or other health conditions like kidney disease.
2. Plan Your Route
Whether you are cycling for fun, exercise, professionally or as a means of transport, it is always important to plan your route. Optimally, it is best to choose low traffic areas where it is less likely that you could be in accident with a vehicle. Look for areas that have cycling paths or cyclist friendly zones.
Also take note of peak traffic times in the areas where you will be cycling. It may be better to take a longer route to your destination than to have to deal with high traffic volumes.
3. Rules Of The Road
It is essential to acquaint yourself with the rules of the road as they relate to cycling as well as pedestrians and other motorists. Make sure that you understand the right signals to use to make your intentions known. Also be aware of any laws regarding where you may cycle and where not.
Look for signs that clearly allow or forbid cycling and adhere to these. Cycling in forbidden areas can result in fines as well as not be safe for you. Always be considerate to pedestrians and other road users. Stay off the sidewalks unless they are marked for cycling.
Always keep in mind that some areas and some times of day are simply not safe for cycling. It is best to cycle during day light hours or in well lit areas, especially if you are travelling with bags or other items. Be aware of the neighborhood that you are cycling in and any crime that you should be aware of.
NOTE: One way advanced cyclists improve their awareness is by using a power meter. Cycling power meters help measure the power output of the cyclist. A couple great examples are the PowerPod and the Watteam POWERBEAT.
Make sure that you have the means to lock up your bicycle when it is unattended for any period of time to prevent theft. Keep in mind that the wheels, seat and other removable parts may be stolen even if your bike is securely locked up. It is always best to try and find an indoor area to safely store your bike.
Cycling is a safe and great means of transport as well as exercise. However, it is important to keep your health and safety in mind when cycling to prevent injury and bodily harm.