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7 Quick Bike Riding Safety Tips: blog post for Plymouth Rock Assurance

Sitting is the new smoking: So get off your bum and on your bike!

I’ve blogged about being a passionate urban cyclist before. I like to volunteer my time by writing for Livable Streets Alliance, an advocacy group that works hard to make metro Boston’s streets a safer, saner, healthier place for people to live, work, and play.

In that spirit, here’s a recent blog post I did for Plymouth Rock Assurance on how to navigate Boston streets safely on two wheels. You can read the post below, and visit their blog at http://blog.prac.com.

Why blog about cycling for a car insurance company? Less cars on the road = less accidents = lower premiums (provided cyclists ride safely, too, of course).

7 Quick Bike Riding Safety Tips

Cycling isn’t just for Spandex-clad roadies on fancy lightweight racing bikes anymore.

Businessman_On_A_Bicycle.jpgPlenty of people are riding bikes in business attire or in regular street clothes to get to work and run errands in and around metro Boston. Some of us (myself included) are even biking in heels…after all, it’s easier to bike in heels than walk in them.

If you’ve been out and about in Boston lately, you may have noticed how many more cyclists have been riding around our beautiful city. It’s not your imagination: there’s been a big jump in bike ridership. Bike riding in Beantown is up nearly 82% since Mayor Menino famously declared “The car is no longer king” at the launch of BostonBikes in 2007. We’ve seen plenty of positive changes since then: Hubway, Boston’s bike share program, recently celebrated its second year and one millionth ride. The city has also installed more than 2,500 new bike parking spots and over 60 miles of bike lanes, with more on the way. Yay!

To celebrate, why not get your bike tuned up (or hop on a Hubway shared bike) and come out for the 9th annual Hub on Wheels on Sunday, September 22nd? You can choose from a leisurely 10-mile loop or the more challenging 30- or 50-mile rides. All three course options start and end at City Hall in downtown Boston. Storrow Drive will be car-free, and you’ll be free to explore the city’s historical architecture and enjoy views of the Harbor (the “Hahbah!”) from your eco-friendly, two-wheeled perch.

In the meantime, here are seven quick bike riding safety tips:

  1. Signal your turns. Guess what? It’s okay to use your right arm to signal a right turn on your bike. It’s good to let drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists know where you’re going. Which brings us to tip #2…
  2. Be consistent. Real life bike riding is not a video game: Don’t bob and weave haphazardly through traffic. Stay on the right, or take up a full lane (if safe to do so), especially in intersections, which can be dangerous to navigate and can leave you vulnerable to vehicles turning right. Stay behind the big guys: if you can’t see truck and bus drivers looking at you in their mirrors, slow down, stay back and give them plenty of room. Chances are good you’ll still get there before they do, thanks to city traffic.
  3. Ride nice: Put a ring on it. Get a bike bell or bike horn. Let people know you’re coming up behind them by ringing your bell (nicely). You can also announce “On your left / on your right” (also nicely) when you’re about to pass someone on foot or on another bike. Be sure to slow down and give them plenty of time to react first. Smile and say thanks when they get out of your way…being polite is good karma.
  4. Follow the rules. Obey traffic laws (see tip #2 on being consistent). Want to get a head start on a long line of cars at a busy intersection? Get off your bike and walk it through the traffic walk sign. Stop at stop signs and check all ways for cars before you start to ride. And signal your turns!
  5. Watch out for opening doors. Be alert and observant about what’s going on around you at all times. Take those ear buds out and pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t get doored: Give parked cars some room if you’re in a bike lane or riding in traffic. Drivers are still learning the rules around cyclists too. Drivers, truckers, and taxi cab passengers: please check for bikes before you open your door! You could save someone’s life.
  6. Bright lights, big city. Light up your bike like a UFO landing atop a Christmas tree on wheels. And skip the all-black urban attire, or wear a safety vest at night – NYC’s woman-owned Vespertine has some stylish, made-in-USA, safety accessories.
  7. Protect your most valuable asset. Show your brain and all that it does for you some love. Wear a helmet. Always! State law requires anyone 16 and under to wear one: No ifs, ands, or head butts.

Riding a bike is green in more ways than one. Many car insurance companies, including Plymouth Rock, offer low mileage rating factors, which can save you money on your car insurance. If you’re driving less, you may want to talk to your insurance agent about how low mileage rating factors work.

Have fun and ride safely! See you at Hub on Wheels…

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