According to the Travel Channel, the top ten cities for cycling are: Boulder, Portland, New York City, Washington D.C., Minneapolis, Tucson, Austin, Missoula, San Diego and Louisville. Personally, when I lived in New York City, you couldn’t pay me to get on a bicycle because I was afraid of careless drivers and narrow streets. However, in the past few years, great improvements have been made to make the city and all of these other cities listed, a friendlier place for cyclists.
Now that I live in Los Angeles, I try to use my bicycle as much as I can all year round because the weather permits it. Not only does biking save you dollars at the gas pump, but you are also burning calories while commuting. As if that’s not enough to persuade you to hit the road on a bike, the benefits to the environment are worth it alone. Your carbon footprint will reduce drastically and that’s a benefit to everyone.
Whether you live in a bike friendly city or not, you will need to take safety precautions before and during your ride. In honor of National Bike Safety Month, here are 5 ways to stay safe while biking:
Watch out for opening doors
While riding through the city or town streets next to parked cars, try to keep an eye ahead looking for people in parked cars who may be about to open their doors into traffic. Getting hit by an opening door is NOT fun. Use a bell to alert both drivers and pedestrians that you are coming in hot!
Wear a helmet
Protect your most important asset, your brain! If you are ever struck by a car or knocked off your bike somehow, protecting your brain is vital to your future healing.
You never know when you may find yourself with a flat tire. Or perhaps you’ve taken a wrong turn and wound up in a dodgy neighborhood. It’s always important to carry some form of non-lethal protection if you are ever threatened by someone up to no good.
The Mace Brand KeyGuard pepper spray carabiner model is great for biking safety because it is easy to latch on to your belt buckle, keys (if they are easily accessible) or even your handlebars. You want to keep it in a place that is out in the open and ready for you to grab and use when needed. To protect yourself against an unruly dog, you can also carry a Mace Brand Muzzle Dog Pepper Spray. Last but not least, depending on your bike tires, you may want to carry an extra tube or a patch kit in case of a flat.
Invest in a trusty lock
I know very few people that live in Los Angeles that have not had a bike stolen from them. A strong bike lock is not the thing to scrimp on. Invest in a good bike lock to reduce bike theft because nobody is happy after seeing their wire lock cut open and bike missing.
Be seen at night
It can be difficult to see a bike at night if you are a driver, especially on roads that are not well lit. Now imagine how much safer you could be if you had blinking lights for cars to spot you. Try having at least one white blinking light on the front of your bike and one red blinking light on the back. I also wear an LED armband blinking light like this one from Mace Brand, and the Mace Brand Shoe Safety Lights at the same time. You can never be too bright!