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Commute by bike? Stay safe and follow the rules


Photo: pixdeluxe/iStockphoto

For workers who live close enough to the office to commute by bike, the benefits can be great. Biking to work is good exercise, you save money at the gas pump and – by ditching your vehicle – you’ll be helping the environment.

However, commuting by bike is not without risk. In 2013, more than 900 bicyclists were killed and an estimated 494,000 people visited the emergency room for a bicycle-related injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Know the rules

Imagine this: You’re biking along at a nice speed when notice a stop sign ahead. “If I stop for it, I’ll lose my momentum,” you think to yourself. “I’ll just watch carefully as I ride through it.”

Not so fast – you must make a complete stop. Bikes are considered vehicles when ridden on the roads, according to the Washington-based League of American Bicyclists, and laws that apply to motorists also apply to bicyclists.

Other bike safety tips from LAB include:

  • Obey all stop signs, traffic lights and lane markings.
  • Wear a helmet at all times.
  • Look and signal before you change lanes or turn. To signal a left turn, fully extend your left arm out. For a right turn, fully extend your right arm out to the side or bend your left arm up at a right angle, keeping your hand flat. To notify others that you’re slowing or stopping, extend your left arm out at a right angle with your hand open.
  • Be conspicuous. Wear bright clothing when biking and attach a front white light, red rear light and reflectors to your bicycle.
  • Keep your bike in good working condition. Ensure your tires are sufficiently inflated, brakes are working smoothly and quick-release levers are closed before heading out.
  • If a bike lane is too narrow and you’re going the same speed as traffic, take the main lane.
  • If biking in the rain, be aware that water on the rims will make it harder to stop. Make turns and brake slower than normal, and allow more distance to come to a stop.
  • Keep in mind that when rain first starts, oil seeps into the roadway. This can make biking conditions very slick.
  • Watch for hazards, including potholes, debris in the road and car doors that may open in your path.
  • Ask your employer to provide safe, covered parking for your bike.

For more information on bike safety, visit

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