The bicycle is a human-powered, two-wheeled mechanical machine that has revolutionized transportation and recreation. It is remarkably efficient from a biological standpoint, and it transfers up to 99% of the energy delivered by the rider into forward motion. Many families own a bicycle or multiple bicycles, and children begin riding at an early age with tricycles and training wheels. While a bicycle is an excellent way to get around, it also can be dangerous if not used properly. It is important to follow a few basic safety rules when using a bike, particularly on roads with cars and pedestrians.
Avoid Riding at Night or in Bad Weather
Bicycles have no engine, so they cannot go anywhere without a rider pushing them forward with their feet. It is best to save your bike rides for the daytime and in good weather, as rain, lightning, high winds or fog can make conditions unsafe for both bicycles and motor vehicles.
Make sure drivers can see you by wearing brightly colored clothing, using lights at night and making hand signals to indicate turns or slowing. Wearing a helmet is also important to protect yourself in case of a crash.
Never Ride on Wet Roads
Even a slight amount of water can cause the ground to slip and lose traction, making it very hard for cyclists to keep control of their bikes. This can lead to a crash, or in severe cases, injury or death.
Always Use the Sidewalk
Cyclists must use the sidewalk if there is one available, but it is very important to check for obstacles before entering the street from a curb or driveway. These may include cracks, wet leaves, storm grates or railroad tracks. The sidewalk can also be uneven or have patches of ice, so riders should ride with their wheels off the edge of the sidewalk.
Use the Handlebars
Keep both hands on the handlebars at all times while riding. This allows you to maintain control of the bike and respond quickly to changing traffic situations or unexpected hazards. It is also safer to ride this way because it reduces the risk of being struck by a car or other moving object.
Don’t Be Distracted
While riding, do not use a mobile phone or other device that could distract you from paying attention to the road or other riders. This is a common cause of bike accidents. It is also very dangerous to ride while under the influence of alcohol.
The bicycle has numerous parts that must be inspected and maintained on a regular basis. Some of these items can be done by the cyclist, while others require special tools or manufacturer-dependent maintenance. Regular maintenance can help prolong the life of a bicycle, so it is worth the time and effort. Some parts of a bicycle can be easily replaced, but it is wise to consult a professional before doing so. These professionals can be found in most cycling shops, and they are very familiar with the different components and how to repair them.