Bicycle Safety-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bicycle Safety

More and more people are riding bicycles.  Maybe you are one of them.  Some ride  to avoid parking hassles, others ride because gasoline prices are too high, or because they want to reduce air pollution.  And yes, some simply ride because they enjoy riding.

Whatever your reason, there are  a number of safety precautions that you should take to ensure that your ride is an enjoyable one.

First, a helmet is a must.  Nobody should ride without one.  Helmets are so important that safety standards have been created to make sure they are adequate.  Before buying a helmet, make sure it has a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sticker.

Next, make sure you are as visible to others as possible.  Vehicle operators who have struck bicycle riders often say they never saw the person on the bike.  Headlights, reflectors, flags, bright clothing . . . anything that will draw attention is good.  And never assume drivers can see you.  Be defensive.

Be alert for road hazards.  Potholes, drivers opening car doors, pets or children running onto the street, wet leaves, or ice all present unique hazards to the bike rider.  Watch for them and anticipate what you will do ahead of time.  And those headphones?  Leave them at home.  You need to hear what’s going on around you as well as see it.

The need for obeying traffic laws should go without saying, but how often have you seen bicycle riders go through stop signs without even slowing down, or make an illegal turn?  Perhaps you have done it yourself.  In Pennsylvania, a bicycle is considered a vehicle and, as such, is governed by a general set of laws  (common to all vehicles) and a specific set of laws (designed for bicycles).  A summary of those laws can be found at 

In winter weather, be sure to weatherize your bike. We often think of snow tires for cars, but they are no less important for bicycles.

Make all your bike rides safe ones.  Take these simple precautions and your chances of becoming a bicycle statistic will go down dramatically.

By: Jim Gindlesperger