We are all aware of the benefits of riding a bike as opposed to driving a car everywhere. Biking is much cheaper, better for the environment, and provides great health benefits. Well, it provides great health benefits unless you do something really stupid.
This week, a 30 year old biker in my home town died in an accident with a car. He was going too fast, didn’t yield to traffic where he should have, and t-boned a huge SUV. He didn’t die of a ruptured aorta or complications from a broken femur. He died of massive head injuries, because he wasn’t wearing a helmet. I try really hard not to be preachy, but IF YOU ARE GOING TO RIDE A BIKE, WEAR A HELMET AND KNOW THE TRAFFIC RULES.
I have done my fair share of road biking, and I admit, sometimes it gets a bit hairy if you are surrounded by cars. I can’t imagine riding in a big city without bike lanes, but there are some key points to remember to keep yourself safe while biking.
- The most important thing you can do as a biker is to wear a helmet. Yes, wearing a helmet does mess up your hair, but between flat hair or a cracked skull, I’m pretty sure which one I’d choose.
- I love a good bargain, but you probably want to buy a new helmet if you don’t know the accident history of a used one that is for sale. If it has been in an accident, it might not have the structural integrity to withstand an impact.
- Make sure it fits. You want your helmet to be adjusted and padded to fit your head properly. It does absolutely no good if you do not buckle it or wear it on the side of your head like a beret.
Bikes are Just Like Cars
If you are riding a bike on the road, you are required to follow the traffic laws just like a car.
- Stop at all stop lights or signs, yield if you do not have the right of way.
- Use hand signals when turning.
- Travel in the same direction as a car would, not against traffic.
If you want to use a crosswalk, get off the bike and walk it. Cars are required to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, not bikers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost hit bikers because they jumped off the sidewalk and zoomed across the crosswalk right in front of me.
Don’t Assume the People in Cars Know the Rules
People driving cars often don’t know the traffic laws, especially about bikes. I’ve seen cars go first at a four way stop when I was obviously there before them. Try to follow the laws yourself, but continuously be on the lookout for cars, and don’t assume they are always going to see you.
If you are riding with others, stay in single file if someone in a car is trying to pass. Nothing infuriates non-bikers like a gaggle of riders who are taking up the whole road. If you don’t want the bike haters to write angry letters to the editor about the hippie bikers who won’t let you pass, then be courteous.
Biking and Money
I know you came here looking for financial wisdom, and besides the fact that biking can be an expensive hobby, how does that have anything to do with money?
Everyone reading this has a brain. Our brains are wonderful because they do all kind of things like tell our lungs to breathe, make our hearts beat, and cause excruciating pain if we need to remove our hand from a hot burner. You always have your mind, regardless of how rich or poor you are. Your brain allows you to determine how to make a budget, decide what to purchase, or plan for retirement. I might not know this if I had a severe head trauma, but as I sit here with a sound mind, it would be really sad to lose the brain that has gotten me this far.
I love biking, and it’s really sad when someone gets hurt or dies from injuries in a bicycle crash that could have been prevented. I also can’t imagine how bad a driver who kills or maims a cyclist must feel. Let’s all share the road, be safe, and wear our helmets. Last time I checked, you can’t buy a new brain.
Do you wear a helmet when you ride a bicycle?