Bike Safety Awareness

From our guest contributor – Margaret Beltrami

Bike Safety is a crucial park of riding your bike. It is important to know how to maintain your bike, use safety signals, and know general bike safety.

Correct size- Try on multiple different helmets and adjust the fit ring, which is located on the back, until the helmet is snug on your head. 

Position- Your helmet should sit level and low on your forehead. Check this by placing one or two fingers above your eyebrow. If there is too much space, your helmet should be lower on your forehead to ensure the greatest protection. 

Straps- Your side straps should sit under and a little in front of your ears (the straps should form a “V” shape). Adjust your chin strap so that only one or two fingers fit snugly under the strap. This part is very important, because you do not want your chin strap to be too loose!

Overall check- Your helmet should not rock back and forth or side to side when it is on your head, but make sure it is not too tight that it chokes you or is uncomfortable to the point that you won’t wear it. Another way to test your helmet fit is to widely open your mouth. Your helmet should pull down on your head and you should feel pressure. 

One other important thing to look out for whenever you buy a helmet is to look for a sticker that says the helmet is CPSC certified. CPSC stands for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and they regulate and promote the safety of products. What this means for bike helmets is that the helmet has been tested and approved by the CPSC standards. Before you buy a helmet, make sure there is a sticker on the helmet (usually on the inside of the helmet) that names the standard. It usually will say something like “Complies with U.S. CPSC safety standard”.

Safety checks

It is a good idea before each ride to conduct a short bike safety checklist to make sure your bike is working properly. Doing this will help your bike have a longer life, and will help prevent problems during your rides. 

Air- Ensure that your tires are inflated enough. If you are unsure what pressure to pump your tires to, check the sidewall of your tire, which should tell you the range you should inflate to. 

Brakes- Squeeze your front and rear brakes to make sure they are engaging and functioning properly. 

Chain- Check your chain and all of your gears. Make sure that your chain is not rusted, and if it is, it needs to be replaced. Clean your chain if there is a lot of dirt and filth. Spin your pedals backward when you are off your bike and listen for any abnormal noises. Your chain should easily move over the cogs without skipping, squealing, or grinding. Keeping your chain lubricated will also help it last longer and help you shift gears easier. 

Wheels- Hold the handlebars of your bike in one hand and grab the front wheel in your other hand. Try to move the wheel side-to-side. There should not be any movement in this direction. Next, spin the front wheel. The wheel should look smooth and not wobble or make a grinding noise. If it does, do not ride your bike and have it looked at by a bicycle mechanic. Repeat this on your back wheel. 

Stem- The stem is located at the front, where the handlebars connect to the bike. To ensure that it is secure and functioning properly, stand at the front of the bike with the front wheel between your legs. Hold on to the handlebars and try to move them side-to-side without moving your wheel. If the handlebar moves, do not ride your bike, and have it looked at by a bicycle mechanic.

General bike safety

Hand signals

Hand signals are very important to the safety of cyclists. They are important to use while riding a bike and help tell other riders and cars behind you which direction you are turning. The three hand signals that are the most important are turning right, turning left, and stopping. Use these hand signals with your left arm to show people behind you what you are doing. 

Right turn- Hold your left arm out to the side and at a 90º angle, with your left hand pointing to the sky, and the palm of your hand facing forward.  

Left turn- Hold your left arm straight out to your side. Your arm should be parallel to the ground.  

Stopping- Hold your left arm out to the side, and point your left hand down to the ground at a 90º angle, with the palm of your hand facing behind you. 

Watch out for hazards

Hazards include car doors opening in front of you, trees or other plants, sticks or branches on the ground, wet leaves, and other vehicles, cyclists, or pedestrians. To prevent crashes, actively watch the space in front of you to avoid hitting these obstacles. 


Do not listen to music with earbuds or be engaged with your phone. You will become distracted, and less likely to react quickly if there is an obstacle in your way, because your brain, eyes, and/or ears will be less focused on the road. 

Obeying signs 

Cyclists still need to follow all of the road signs that cars have to follow. Make sure you are stopping at every red light and stop sign. This is because there could be cars traveling in the opposite direction who will not stop for you. 


When biking on a path or a road with other cyclists or pedestrians, always stay to the right while you are riding and pass others on the left. When you are approaching someone from behind, call out “on your left” so they know you are coming and can make sure there is enough room for you to safely pass them. 

Knowing what to bring on bike rides

Being prepared for bike rides is very important to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride. Below is a list of supplies to bring along.

Water and snacks- This is very important! Even if you think you are just going on a shorter ride, you might get lost or have a breakdown, and having water and food will be crucial.

Money- It is a good idea to have some cash and a credit card with you in case you want to stop at a restaurant or store on your ride, or if you have a mechanical problem and need to pay to have repairs made. 

Phone- Carrying a cell phone on your ride will be helpful in the case of an emergency. 

Basic maintenance kit- This will help in case of a breakdown on the road, and should include a spare tube (or patches), a small tire pump, a multi-use tool, and tire levers. 

First-aid kit- A small first aid kit is also a good idea to have. It doesn’t need to have a lot, but should at least include bandaids, gauze, antibiotic ointment, and gloves. 

Riding in the dark

Always be careful when you are riding in the dark, because it is much more dangerous than riding in daylight. That being said, here are some tips for biking in the dark.  

Lights- Lights are important to have so you can see obstacles on the road and so others can see you. At the very least, make sure you have lights on your handlebars, and also a rear light. 

Reflective gear- Reflective gear, including jackets, wearable bands, and tape, helps you become more visible for other cars, cyclists, or pedestrians to see you. 

Light clothing- As well as reflective clothing, light-colored clothing helps you become more visible. At night it is much easier for others to see you if you are wearing light-colored clothing. Make sure you are not wearing dark-colored clothes, because you will blend in with your surroundings. 

Ride with others- Riding with a friend or as a group is a good strategy for riding in the dark. There is safety in numbers, and more people available to help in the case of an emergency or a mechanical issue. 

Leave a Reply