Bicycle riding is a great way to get from one place to another, as well as a fun family activity. The popularity of bicycle riding is growing daily, but, as with anything, it is important to make safety your primary consideration. To that end, we offer some tips that may be useful when you are preparing to do some biking.

BIKES SHOULD BE IN GOOD WORKING CONDITION

Even the most capable rider is flirting with disaster if the bicycle that he/she is riding does not work properly. Check to see that all bolts are tightened, the brakes work as they should, the steering assembly works, and that the gear and chain assembly are lubricated and functioning properly. There should be reflectors on the bike that make it visible from any direction after dark (red facing rear, white facing front), and a warning device, such as a bell or horn. Though not required, a mirror to help see behind you can be a great help as well.

BE PROPERLY EQUIPPED

Bicyclists should next check to be sure that they are properly outfitted for bicycling. The single most important piece of safety equipment that you can use is a HELMET. A helmet should fit the head snugly using the foam pads provided with it, and the chinstrap should be adjusted to hold the helmet firmly but comfortably in place. Helmets should sit level on the head with the front of the helmet just above the eyebrows. The chinstrap should be adjusted snug enough under the chin that you can feel a tug on the helmet when the wearer opens his/her mouth. Always look for the CPSC certification on a helmet, as well as ASTM or SNELL B-95 or N-94 certification. It is also important to replace a helmet that has been involved in a fall and struck the pavement or another object. This could prevent a helmet from working as it was designed to in the event of another accident. Protective glasses to keep your eyes safe are also good to wear. Debris from the road can be kicked up by your tires and get into your eyes, or sometimes riding close to the edge of the road could result in you being struck in the face by a branch or twig. Bright clothing can help drivers to see you (retro-reflective materials and markings are excellent), but avoid clothing that is loose or baggy that may get entangled in the bike and cause a fall. Padded gloves can make it more comfortable to ride, as well as protect your hands from abrasions in the event of a fall.

RIDE IN A SAFE AND RESPONSIBLE MANNER

Bicycles are required to abide by the Rules of the Road:
  • Ride on the RIGHT side of the road.
  • Use proper hand signals when slowing, turning and stopping.
  • Ride no more than two abreast.
  • Donít swerve in and out of traffic.
  • Yield to pedestrians.
  • Donít ride on the sidewalk in business areas.
  • Observe motor vehicle traffic laws.
  • Do not wear headphones when riding.

For further info on the Rules of the Road see Mass General Laws Chapter 89 Sections 1, 2,4,4B, 8, 9 and Chapter 85 Section 11A through 11D. Also be aware that there may also be local City Ordinances or Town By-Laws that may apply. It is also important to watch for road hazards as you ride, and to be aware of what is going on around you. Traffic, pedestrians, animals, and road conditions can necessitate quick reactions, and the inattentive bicyclist can be injured if he/she is not alert to their surroundings.

Some other sites that may be of interest concerning bicycle safety are:

- Governorís Highway Safety Bureau on mass.gov
- Bicycle Coalition of Massachusetts at: massbike.org
- Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute at: helmets.org