Do you want to ride a bike, but get too concerned about bike safety? Or currently ride but know you could do more to boost your safety? Good news! May is National Bike Safety Month and a great time to learn about how you and your family can safely enjoy cycling.
Cycling is a great way to get in exercise, save money on gas and car maintenance, set an example of an active lifestyle for your kids, help the environment and live a more generally active lifestyle that may boost your long-term health. But it can be daunting to get into it when you look at everything you have to consider in order to safely ride. There’s even more to think about it you bike with kids.
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Top 10 bike safety products
- Giro Scamp with MIPS
This is the helmet I use for my toddler. TwoWheelingTots rated it their number-one choice for a bike helmet for children age 9 months to age 3.
- Giro Chronicle with MIPS
This is the helmet that I wear. It’s important to me that my daughter and I both have MIPS, or Multi-directional Impact Protection System, helmets since it can provide added protection in an accident.)
- Reflective tape
High-intensity reflective tape is cheap, quick and easy to apply, and can be used on a bike trailer, helmet, bicycle or other areas you need some extra visibility.
- Safety flag
Safety flags that are several feet high can help motorists notice your bicycle trailer faster. Bright colors, lights and reflective tape help, but putting this little flag, or a set of them, up closer to the driver’s line of sight can boost the chances of the motorist seeing you and your trailer.
- Blinking or solid light
Lights can be added to the front or back of your bike and/or trailer. You can fasten a headlight on the front of your bicycle, then position a blinking red light on the back of your bike or trailer. Even in the daytime, that blinking light may let drivers know sooner that you’re there.
- Reflective spokes or the Revolights Eclipse lighting system
Like some of the other items listed, these can help motorists see you, especially in dim lighting. At the time of this writing, the Revolights system has a 3.5 star rating on Amazon. It was named “The Best Bike Lighting System in the World” by Men’s Journal Magazine, according to its Amazon listing, and can provide 360-degree visibility. They’re meant to be easy to install and easy to see.
The only issue is that it’s expensive. If you’re on a budget, you might want to consider another highly-rated bicycle lighting system like this one.
- Reflective safety vest
Bright yellow reflective vests can provide more 360-degree visibility. These safety vests come in six sizes ranging from child to adult to boost protection for the whole family. There’s also a different style of safety vest that comes in pink, yellow or green.
- Bike bell or horn
This model has five settings to let motorists know where you are. If you’re riding as a family, you could set it to a different tone for the riders. It can reach up to 110 decibels– great for being heard over traffic. This is the model I ordered. It gets to 120 decibels and can be used 2,500 times after being charged by USB. Both models are very loud.
- Wireless bike turn signal
Using a turn signal gives motorists one more warning about your intentions in addition to the hand signals you use. My favorite model has an 80 Lumen light and clear directional arrows. This model also has an 80 Lumen light. For added protection, you could also use these gloves with signals. It may seem like overkill, but it’s nice extra visibility on its own, and doubling allows you a backup light. The point is to get motorists to see you and to be clear as to what your next move will be. (Remember that you should still use hand signals, which are required by law in some areas.)
- Bicycle mirror
Bike mirrors let you see motorists without having to constantly turn to look behind you. They also let you get a quick peek at your bicycle trailer if you’re towing one. Mirrycle makes some nice bike mirrors, like this one (advertised for handlebars with a 15.2 mm to 23.4 mm inside diameter) and this one (advertised for handlebars with a 13.75 to 22.5 inside diameter), that attach to your handlebars.
There are tons of other bike safety products to choose from, some general and some specific to what you’re doing (like road or mountain biking). These are my personal favorites, both for biking alone or with kids.
I don’t want to list these numbers to scare you, but to create awareness. Information is power. Once you know the risks, you can plan to avoid or reduce your chance of injury.
In 2015 in the United States, over 1,000 bicyclists died and there were almost 467,000 bicycle-related injuries. — CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), June 2016
Interestingly, the CDC finds that most bicyclist deaths happen in “urban areas and at non-intersection locations.” To me, intersections are scary, especially when it’s located at a hill or when a motorist is making a left turn across your lane.
But it also makes sense. Drivers sometimes get focused on the road and just don’t pay attention to pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists. Although they don’t own the road and aren’t the only form of transportation out there, they are the fastest, heaviest and scariest you’re likely to meet when riding.
The CDC recommends taking similar measures to what I recommended above: wearing a helmet, using lights and boosting your visibility. It also recommends engineering changes to roads. Most roads just aren’t built with cyclists in mind. Unfortunately, we as individuals can’t create awesome, safer side paths or shared-use paths (but you CAN contact your local/regional/state government about it!)
Additional safety items
Some of these items may not directly protect you, but they can prevent distraction or provide assistance if you need it. They aren’t bicycle-specific, but may boost bike safety or emergency preparedness.
- Cell phone with a charged battery, GPS capability and protective case
- Bug spray
- Sturdy, non-slip shoes
- Stocked first-aid kit
- Sunglasses or goggles
All items listed may provide an extra degree of protection or emergency preparedness for a cyclist and can promote bike safety, but JadeKNOWS cannot be held liable for individual results.
What are your favorite bike safety items on the list? What do you use that I didn’t add?