10 ways to keep safe cycling in Houston
Cycling is freeing when its done right! Come on Houston lets ride with safety in mind.
If you are a cycling enthusiast, then Houston is the place to be. With more than 300 miles of interconnected bikeway trails and more than 80 miles of hike and bike nature trails, the City of Houston offers lush scenery and bike-friendly routes for all ages, according to the Houston Bikeway Program.
However, when cycling in Houston, it’s important to remember that bike safety is a priority. When taking your little ones on a neighborhood jaunt or cycling across the city, keep these 10 safety tips in mind.
#1: Wear a Helmet Whether you are riding on a neighborhood street or cruising through the city, make sure you are protected with a tightly-fitting helmet. In fact, in Houston, by law, every bike rider 17 and under must wear a helmet when cycling. According to the City of Houston’s bike handbook, a good helmet can prevent an injury to your brain and reduce a bike rider’s risk of major injury or death by 89 percent.
#2: Ride to the Right Knowing the rules of the road is not exclusive to only motorists in Houston. Always stay to the right and use designated bikeways when possible. In addition, avoid the “car door zone” to prevent unexpected injury.
#3: Stay off the Sidewalks Although it may appear to be safer to ride on the sidewalk versus the street when a bikeway is not present, bicycles are not allowed on sidewalks in Houston unless there are hazardous conditions on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the road is safer than the sidewalk because of visibility. “Cyclists move much faster than pedestrians, which means that you can enter a driver’s field of vision faster,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “This makes it much harder for them to see you if you are on the sidewalk. On the road, you’re right in their face.”
#4: Know Your Direction When cycling in Houston, always ride in the same direction as traffic to increase a motorist’s ability to see you. Just as motorists do, cyclists should obey traffic signs and signals and ride only one cyclist per seat.
#5: Learn the Terminology As a biker, it’s important to know the terminology to help you obey the rules of the road. The City of Houston’s Bike Safety Handbook designates the following terms as need-to-know bike talk:
Cyclists: A person who rides a bicycle Designated: Marked for a special purpose Hydrated: when you drink enough water to keep your body working well Motorist: Someone who drives a car, van or truck Pedestrian: A person who walks Yield: Come to a complete stop and let a person or vehicle cross in front of you
#6: Send the Right Signals It’s important to be aware of your surroundings when cycling across Houston. Always look ahead, behind and to the sides before making a turn or proceeding on your route. Use hand signals, too, to alert pedestrians, motorists, and other cyclists. Common turn signals include:
To turn left, put your left arm out and return hand to handlebars To turn right, put your right arm out and return hand to handlebars To stop, put your left or right arm straight out and let it hang down from the elbow. Return hand to handlebars.
#7: Slow Down Remember that safety trumps winning a race to the finish when cycling through the city. Slow down and dismount your bike versus attempting to ride over big holes in the road, uneven pavements and grating over sewer drain.
#8: Dress to Ride Unfortunately, loose clothing, dangling shoelaces, and jewelry can impair your ability to cycle safely in Houston. Be dressed to ride by securing all ties and laces. Make sure you are visible, too, by wearing reflective strips and white or bright-colored clothing so motorists can see you easily. Bike Barn repair shop and supplies are at.
#9: Register Your Bike It’s the law. The City of Houston requires that all bicycles should be registered at your nearest Houston fire station. For just $1 you can register your bike and allow the Houston Police Department easy access to locate your bicycle if it is lost or stolen. For more information on registration, visit HoustonFire.org.
#10: Complete a BikeSmart Checklist Before pedaling your way through the streets of Houston, conduct a routine check of your bike to ensure your safety.
A routine check includes inspecting the following:
Check your tire pressure Inspect your brakes Make sure the lubricated chain is snug Secure the seat and handlebars so they are tight Tighten any loose spokes Check reflectors and lights Test the bell or horn Make sure the gears are shifting correctly It’s always a good idea to also get your bike tuned up at least once a year at your local bike shop.
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