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7 Helpful Bike Safety Tips

Bike safety.

Bike commuting has more than doubled in the last decade. Riding a bike to work, school or the store not only cuts down on your carbon footprint, but it’s also a great way to exercise and it could even save money on commuting costs. Regardless of where you’re headed or how long the trip will take, stay safe by following the rules of the road and by properly insuring your bike.

1. Always wear a helmet.

Protect your head. Never ride without a properly fitted helmet. The helmet should be snug, level and stable, according to guidelines from the Bike Helmet Safety Institute. Periodically check your helmet's key components – the shell, liner, strap, buckle and rear stabilizer - to see if they need repair. The Bike Helmet Safety Institute recommends always replacing a helmet following a crash.

2. Obey the rules of the road.

A bicycle is considered a road vehicle. Bicyclists should abide by the same traffic signals and street signs that motorists follow. Make it easy for other bicyclists and drivers to predict your behavior: Stay in the bike lane (or the right side of the road) and don’t swerve in and out of traffic.

3. Be visible.

Wear bright colors and use reflective lights. If you commute to and from work, consider investing in an inexpensive reflective jacket or vest that you can slip on over your clothes. Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk and ride with a light mounted on your bike at night.

4. Use hand signals.

You can’t expect other drivers or bikers to read your mind. Stay safe by signaling first and then turning. For a full list of hand signals, review this guide from NHTSA.

5. Stay alert.

Changing road conditions can have a big impact on your ride. Everything from an unexpected pothole to a storm grate could cause you to lose control of your bike. Also, save the texting until later and keep your eyes on the road!

6. Respect your local laws.

Additional rules governing cycling safety can vary between cities and states - sometimes even within the same city! Municipalities may also have rules governing the use of headlights, taillights and rear reflectors, as well as equipment requirements. Check with your local municipality and review bicycling regulations before you grab your helmet and hit the streets.

7. Talk to your insurance agent about bike insurance coverage.

Whether you paid a few hundred dollars for a basic bike or invested several thousand in a top-of-the-line model, losing a bike due to theft or an accident can be devastating. Your bike may be covered under the personal property section of your home insurance and rental insurance policies.

The Insurance Information Institute recommends that you keep your receipt and speak with your agent about any policy limitations or exclusions.

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