Riding a bicycle comes with all kinds of benefits, whether people do it as an eco-friendly way of commuting to work or just for fun on the weekends. It improves cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and joint mobility, reduces stress, improves body composition, and can help people lose weight.
Unfortunately, this unique form of transportation also comes with its fair share of risks, especially when bicyclists ride in cities. No matter where people choose to ride, there are many simple steps they can take to help prevent common cycling injuries. Find out about the most important of them below.
1. Know the Laws
For those who cycle in the city, knowing the local traffic laws is a must. In many cases, bicyclists share the streets with motorists. The laws vary by jurisdiction, but in most places, riders are supposed to stay as far to the right of the road as possible, ride in the same direction as traffic, and follow applicable rules of the road.
Motorists also need to follow certain laws, such as leaving at least three feet of space when passing a bicycle on the road. Knowing the rules of the road as they apply to both bicyclists and drivers both promotes safety and ensures that the path forward will be clear if you’re injured on your bike.
2. Wear a Helmet
Head injuries incurred while riding a bicycle can be very serious. According to the CDC, head injuries account for 30% of emergency room visits related to bicycle accidents and 60% of deaths. The best way for bicyclists to reduce the risk of incurring serious head injuries is to wear a helmet. There’s no way to reduce the risk of getting into accidents to zero, but wearing a helmet is an affordable and easy way for cyclists to protect themselves all the time.
3. Ride the Right Bike
Proper sizing and saddle position are both essential when it comes to preventing injuries. Incorrect saddle height can alter biomechanics, increasing pressure on the knees and ankles and leaving cyclists at risk of developing ankle problems, and an improperly sized bike can leave its rider at a greater risk of falls. Anyone who plans to ride often or on city streets should purchase their bike from a dedicated bike store where they can get help finding a bike that’s the right size, getting the saddle position right, and purchasing a high-quality seat.
4. Get in Shape
Bicycling is a physically strenuous activity, which is part of why it’s so good for people. However, jumping straight in the deep end and going for long rides without getting into shape first can lead to back, neck, and muscle overuse injuries. New cyclists should make an effort to get in safe riding shape first and pace themselves until they feel more comfortable with longer rides.
5. Learn How to Fall
The occasional fall is almost inevitable. Most people instinctively go to brace themselves with their arms to break their falls, but it will do more harm than good by placing all of the impact on the collarbone. Hold onto the handlebars while falling to spread out the impact and help to avoid broken bones.
Bicycle safety should always be a top priority, especially for new riders. It’s even more essential in cities, where motorists are more common than other cyclists and aren’t always paying close attention to the road. Ride defensively and be sure to follow all the laws.