Principles of Bicycle Safety

Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on October 19, 2020

The best preparation for safe bicycle riding is proper training.

  • Common resources include an experienced rider, parent, or community program.
  • Often, however, initial training involves simple instruction from parents on balance and pedaling.
  • Proper supervision of younger riders is a prerequisite. In fact, it is recommended that younger children ride only in enclosed areas.

Early investment in safety equipment such as protective clothing and a helmet can prevent a significant number of injuries.

  • Helmets - Extremely important
  • Reflective clothing for nighttime or low-visibility conditions
  • Bicycle safety equipment (reflectors on frame and wheels)
  • Proper bicycle selection
  • Bicycle maintenance

Bicycling safety guidelines

Understanding and following these guidelines can further reduce the risk of a bicycle accident.

  • Use a bicycle only in a way that is appropriate for the age of the rider.
  • Be aware of the need for experience and skill before bicycling on public roads.
  • All bicyclists should be educated about the rules of the road.
  • Be aware of the understanding among bicyclists and motorists about sharing the road.
  • Promote and ensure safe motorist and bicyclist practices (proper speed, yielding right-of-way, not driving while drinking).
  • Teach increased awareness of surroundings. (Beware of opening car doors, sewer grating, debris on roads, uneven surfaces, poorly lit areas.)
  • Obey traffic rules.
    • Cyclists must follow the same rules as motorists. Use correct hand signals before turning.
    • Because we are all sharing the same road, obeying the rules of the road will allow for an enjoyable and safe ride for both bicyclists and motorists.
  • Ride in single file with traffic, not against it.
  • Avoid major roads and sidewalks.
  • Announce your presence ("On your left") on bike and walking trails as you come up behind and pass pedestrians and other riders.
  • Enforcement and legislation can increase bicycle safety.
    • Mandating use of protective devices (helmets, reflectors)
    • Bicycle-friendly community and community planning, for example establishing bicycle lanes and bike trails or rails-to-trails