What are 5 Safety Tips for Inexperienced Bike Riders?

Video Transcription:

Jim Dodson: - Hi, I'm Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. So whether you're a new cyclist or, maybe, someone who hasn't been on a bike in 20 years, there are five essential things every cyclist needs to understand in order to ride safely on every ride. And I'm gonna tell you those things right now.

You know, I'm a cyclist myself, I ride four times a week. I've been representing cyclists for many years. I am an advocate for cycling safety. I study these things, I see it in my practice everyday. So these are the five critical things that, if you do these things the odds of you having a wonderful, safe, enjoyable ride, without any incident, are gonna be dramatically improved.

The first is that you always wear a helmet. Moms and dads, wear a helmet while your kids have theirs on. Set the standard, helmets save lives. And, people can have serious injuries in the most unusual situations and those can be prevented by wearing a helmet, it's really quite simple. There's some great helmet technology that has developed in the last five years. When you go to a bike shop, you don't need to spend a great deal of money for a helmet. The more you pay doesn't necessarily increase the safety, but I would recommend that you check out two things. It's MIPS, M-I-P-S, which is a technology built into some helmets by some manufacturers. And, Trek has their own called WaveCel technology. Dramatically reduces the chance of having a concussion in the event you ever were to fall of your bike and strike your head.

The second thing is that you always want to use, on your bike, a bright white flashing light in the front and a bright, rear-facing, red light in the rear. Flashing, always, it attracts more attention. What we want to do as cyclists, we want to attract attention. The casual driver who is more concerned about themselves and their safety, trying to make a quick decision in traffic, you want their eyes to be attracted to you. To pick you out of the background, pick you out of all the visual clutter out there, and recognize that you're on a bike and to avoid you. And you do that by using a bright flashing light in the front and a flashing rear taillight, okay? This data is totally sound and conclusive in this matter.

The other thing is that you always want to wear neon colors. Just out of the habit, when you take a bike ride for yourself or with your kids, have a certain shirt you put on or a certain vest you put on, it's neon. If it's during the day, you want a neon color. I like to ride with yellow, everything I have, my bike is a neon yellow bike, matter of fact. Everything I can get on is neon that's neon, I know, increases the odds that I'm gonna be seen. At night, you want reflective. You want the things that are gonna catch the light of a car and reflect back to them. So neon during the day, fluorescent, neon colors, reflective at night, all right?

Remember number four, you want to always ride with traffic. You can walk against traffic, but when your bicycle is on the road, you are a car. You are under the same rules as a motor vehicle. You ride with the flow of traffic on the right side. It is legal, in Florida, to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk, and you can ride in either direction. You don't have to ride in the same direction as traffic, okay? It is legal, and I would recommend it for young children, obviously. For adults, I don't necessarily recommend it because sidewalks have their own particular issues about safety. Your kids need to be particularly aware to watch for backing vehicles, backing cars out of driveways, or cars coming into driveways, so those are my concerns. But, I've got four granddaughters, they just got new bikes recently, and three of them are riding their bikes, primarily, on the sidewalk. I understand it and it's legal, and it's okay. Just be careful about it, it has it's own issues.

And, the other thing that we need to keep in mind, number five, is you always want to announce yourself. If you're on the sidewalk, and you're approaching a pedestrian, you need to call out, "On your left, On your right." Unfortunately, a lot of people are walking around with earbuds on, they're listening to music, they're listening to a podcast. They're not, necessarily aware that someone's coming from their rear. And, sometimes, you've got to really yell it out, and you want to do that, or carry a bell on your bike. Something to get their attention, a high-pitched bell to get their attention, because you don't want a person who's walking to suddenly turn left, or turn right, and you run right into them because they didn't know you were coming. And, quite frankly, you startle them. When you're passing another cyclist, and we've had cases based on this not happening. When you pass another cyclist, yell out, "On your left," or, "On your right," so they know that you're passing. You don't want them to, suddenly, change direction in your path because they weren't aware that you were coming.

So, those are the five basic things that every cyclist needs to understand. If you were to go today and join an experienced bicycle club, every one of the riders do every one of the things I'm telling you, or they at least know about it. They're not the best about wearing neon colors, quite frankly, it's my advocacy that they need to. But, these things I'm telling you to do are what every experienced rider does in every bike club in the state, because these things are proven safety enhancers to increase the odds of you having a great day, enjoying the outdoors, and coming back safely with your family. And that's exactly what I hope you do. I'm Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. We've got an offer for you today. I have a publication called "Cycling Essentials", Kati's putting the link on the screen for you, we'd be happy to send it to you. It'll give you some of the things I've talked about here today, plus some additional information. Enjoy your bike, enjoy your ride, be safe. I'm Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. Take care.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.