Preventing Common Cycling Accidents

Riding a bicycle is one of the best forms of exercise ever conceived by man. It is inexpensive and convenient, effective, and low impact, environmentally friendly and relaxing. It is fun for all ages and loaded with health benefits that will improve your physical health as well as your mental wellbeing. Cycling places little stress on the joints while targeting all the major muscle groups. However, for all its benefits, cycling does come with the risk of injury. The U.S. Center for Disease Control reports there are well over 100,000 bicycle-related injuries in the United States every year. In 2022, there were 192 fatal bicycle accidents in California alone. However, these risks can be mitigated, and some even eliminated with adequate training, by choosing the right equipment and taking the necessary precautions.

Selecting the Proper Size Bike

The Idaho Sports Medicine Institute reports that riding an incorrectly sized bicycle can result in orthopedic injuries. A poorly fitting bicycle can also result in you losing control of the bike and crashing. Perform research on your own, seek the advice of experienced riders or buy your cycle from a reputable dealer who will be able to get you on a correctly fitted bicycle.

Add a Mirror

Unfortunately, most bicyclists never think about putting a mirror on their bike, but one will help you stay aware of approaching vehicles before you can hear them or when other road noises cover their approach. Two is even better.

Ride Defensively

Just as when driving a car, you never know when someone else is going to do something stupid. Stay aware of traffic anytime you are sharing the road with motor vehicles. Here are some tips:

  • Ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • Obey all traffic laws just as when driving a car.
  • Use hand signals when turning, slowing down and stopping.
  • Ride predictably, about three feet from parked cars.
  • Ride single file in heavy traffic.
  • Look far ahead for hazardous situations like drainage grates, manhole covers, train tracks and potholes.
  • Do not listen to music or use any device that diverts your attention from the road and traffic.

Perform Regular Maintenance

Regular scheduled maintenance is just as important for a bicycle as it is for a motor vehicle. To be sure your bike is safe, stick to a regular maintenance schedule.

Before each ride

  • Check your brakes every time you get on your bike. While bicycle brakes are a very simple and dependable mechanism, all it takes is a loose nut or cable for them to fail.
  • Check the air pressure in your tires with a tire gauge. Low tire pressure can result in you losing control while riding.

Once a month

  • Apply a quality lubricant to the chain and cables, such a spray-on silicone or a dry powder lube. Note that dry lubricants work well in dry environments but will wash away very quickly under wet conditions.
  • Check the wheels for wobble and any signs of damage by holding the bike so the tire is off the ground and giving the wheel a good spin. If you detect wobbles, take the bike to a qualified mechanic.


  • Take your bike to your mechanic for a complete servicing at least once a year.

Always Wear a Helmet

Last, but definitely not least, is to be sure to always wear a helmet approved for riding a bicycle. Even with having the best training and equipment and taking all the proper precautions, accidents can happen and in the wink of an eye. Be sure you pick a helmet that fits your head correctly and have the chin strap properly adjusted.

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