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Safety while cycling

Safety while cycling: Rules of the Road.

It's hard to say exactly how safe cycling is. It's no more dangerous than other sports or recreational activities. Still, it seems like every week we hear another story about a cyclist who was injured or killed in a cycling accident. That's doesn't mean that you should give up cycling. We think the opposite is true. We'd actually like to see more people become involved in and take a stand for the cyclists to make the roads safer for all of us. But, until every road everywhere welcomes riders you have to take safety personally. Let this article be your guide to staying safe while cycling.

In the Saddle. Know the rules. If you're going to ride learn the rules first. That means becoming familiar with the traffic laws and the rules of the road. Ride responsibly to reduce the risk of accidents.

Head first. New York conducted a multi-year study of cycling related deaths. From 1995-2005 nearly all bicyclists who died (97%) were not wearing a helmet. Translation, where a helmet! Research shows that helmets prevent serious injury and death.

Hands on. Drivers can't read your mind. The only way they'll know where you're going is if you show them; with your hands. You can also use hand signals to communicate with other cyclists when riding in a group. Hand signals are your lifeline and your only mode of communication. Learn them and use them.

See and be seen. Where bright colors whenever it is possible. When riding at night, make sure you can see where you're going by using a headlight for your bike. Then, make sure you're seen by wearing reflective clothing. Being seen goes a long way towards avoiding an accident.

Behind the Wheel. Pass slowly. Ten miles per hour can be the difference between an injury and a death, avoiding an accident or causing one. Studies show that pedestrians are eight times more likely to be killed by a car when struck at 30 mph than at 20 mph. Apply that logic to a cyclist and it's clear that slowing down when passing a cyclist is the only way to go.

Give them their space. Slowing down is helpful and so is moving over. The more space you give a cyclist the better off you are. That goes for coming up behind them and passing them. There's actually legislation in place that mandates passing distances. More than fifteen states require drives to give cyclists at least three feet when passing. Hang up and drive. It should go without saying that when you're driving you should be paying attention to the road and not your phone. Unfortunately that isn't always the case. So here's a reminder, hang up and drive. That phone call, text message, or email is not as important as someone's life. It can wait.

One More Thing. Drinking and driving is never okay. But, neither is drinking and riding. A 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Transportation showed that 28 percent of cyclists killed in 2011 were legally drunk. Alcohol involvement on the part of the driver or the cyclist was reported in more than 37 percent of the traffic crashes that resulted in cyclist fatalities in 2011.

Together, cyclists and motorists can join forces to share the road, preventing unnecessary accidents altogether.