The month of May kicks off National Bike Month, the month of the year dedicated to celebrating the art of cycling and all of its many benefits. But National Bike Month also serves another important purpose, too; it's a great time to focus on cyclist safety. Here are some tips for becoming a safer cyclist starting now:
Choose the Right Helmet and Always Wear It
If you’re not already wearing a helmet every time you ride, there’s no better time to start than today. Just as important as wearing a helmet, though, is wearing the right type and size of helmet. Visit your local bike or helmet shop for assistance in having your helmet fitted if you’re unsure how to find a good fit.
Make Sure Others Can See You While Riding
Another essential aspect of cycling safely is making sure that you’re visible to others on the road.
- Wear bright colors (like fluorescent yellow)
- Use a reflective vest or tape
- Make sure your bike is equipped with both front and rear lights
Also, always make eye contact with motorists before making a turn, this can help to ensure that the driver sees you.
Use Bicycling Hand Signals
Using hand signals is an important part of letting others on the road know what actions you plan to take. What’s more, using hand and arm signals as a cyclist is required under Iowa law. If you’ve never learned bicycle hand signals, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides a great tutorial.
Follow Traffic and Bicycle Laws
Finally, one of the most important things that you can do as a cyclist is to familiarize yourself with all of the bicycle laws and to follow them as well as all other traffic laws.
For example, Iowa law requires the following.
- Bicyclists always pass on the left
- Use a light at night
- Follow lane markings
- Only ride where permitted
You can also visit the Iowa Department of Transportation's Iowa Bikes page for more information about biking in Iowa.
Plan Your National Bicycle Month Event: Ride Safely
During National Bicycle Month, cyclists are encouraged to attend, participate in, or even host their own events. A calendar of cycling events during the month of May can be found online at BikeLeague.org. Make sure that whatever activity you’re participating in, you practice the safety tips listed above.