4 Biking Safety Tips for Commuters - Consumer Reports

It’s World Car-Free Day—a perfect day to try cycling to or from work.

But while cycling is an environmentally friendly and healthy way to get around, cyclists die at twice the rate of motor-vehicle occupants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The first step to staying safe while cycling is to wear a helmet. (Consumer Reports rates the best ones here.) But if you haven’t ridden in a while, there’s more you need to know if you want to stay safe on the road.

We consulted with the League of American Bicyclists (a cycling advocacy nonprofit) as well as Bob Mionske, an attorney and the author of "Bicycling and the Law: Your Rights as a Cyclist" to create the following cheat sheet. It will help bring you up to speed on how to signal, which laws you need to follow, and what else you need to know to ride safely.

Ride on the Street, Preferably in a Bike Lane

The law generally treats cyclists as vehicles, not pedestrians, according to Mionske. That means using the road (not the sidewalk), and moving in the same direction as traffic. (In most states, local ordinances restrict sidewalk use to child cyclists only.)

“Cyclists have the right to the road in all 50 states,” Mionske says, and cars are usually required to give cyclists a buffer of roughly 3 to 5 feet when they pass.

That said, whenever there’s a bike lane, you should use it. “It’s usually safer than riding with traffic, and definitely safer than the sidewalk in cities,” he says.

In the suburbs, sidewalks might feel safer. But Steve Taylor, head of communications at the League of American Bicyclists, says that might not be the case.

Drivers pulling in and out of their driveway “may not be looking for a cyclist on the sidewalk moving 10 to 12 miles per hour,” Taylor says. And “on a bike, you can’t stop as quickly to avoid that kind of accident as you can when you’re on foot.”

Click here to read the full article: https://www.consumerreports.org/safety/biking-safety-tips-for-commuters/