General Safety Tips
1. Make Sure Your Bike is Safe
The pedals, seat, and handlebars let you control your bike. Make sure they are firmly attached.
Make sure tires are in good condition and are properly inflated.
Inspect the braking system to ensure it will function adequately when needed.
Bike shops can help determine if your bike is safe. Most of our local bike shops will provide a free safety check.
2. Make Yourself Easily Seen
Motorists are used to looking for car-sized objects. To enhance your visibility, wear light-colored or fluorescent clothing and accessories. Apply reflective tape to your helmet and moving parts on your bike, and always use proper lighting at night.
3. The three most frequent causes of motor vehicle vs. bicyclist fatal crashes are:
Failure to obey traffic control devices
Riding on the wrong side of the roadway
Riding at night without proper lighting
Bicycle Safety Rules
1. Ride Predictably
When riding in traffic, avoid weaving in and out of the "parking lane". Instead, maintain your line of travel, remaining as far right as is safe.
2. Road Hazards
Continually scan for hazards that could cause you to lose control.
In wet conditions, give yourself extra room to stop.
When crossing slippery surfaces (such as utility covers) avoid braking or turning.
Cross train tracks at right angle and stand up to absorb shock from the uneven surface.
3. Obey Traffic Laws
Traffic law violations cause the majority of bicycle/motor vehicle collisions. By following traffic laws, cyclists are predictable to other drivers.
Ride in the direction of traffic.
Obey traffic signs and signals.
Yield when entering a roadway.
Signal before turning or changing lanes.
Pass on the left.
Use proper lighting at night.
In Florida, the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle. Bicyclists using a public roadway are considered operators of vehicles and are responsible for observing traffic laws. With few exceptions, there is only one road and it is up to motorists and bicyclists to treat each other with care and respect. Adherence to the law is the foundation of respect.
4. Be Responsible For Yourself
When riding in a group each rider should look out for themselves and not simply follow the rider in front of them.
Make sure all riders in the group are aware of how to ride safely and legally.
5. Wear a Helmet
Head injuries cause the majority of bicycle motor-vehicle collision deaths.
Helmets can help reduce the frequency and severity of head injuries.
Helmets can only do their job, however, if properly fitted and adjusted.
Always wear the helmet level on your head. The side buckles should be situated just below your earlobes. The chin strap should be adjusted to fit snugly when the chin buckle is closed.
Bicycle helmets are designed to withstand one crash only. Structural damage is not always visible, so never use a crashed or second hand helmet.
Store your helmet away from sunlight, as ultraviolet light can damage it.
Helmets are required of bicyclists under the age of 16.
Bicycle Group Riding
1. Be Predictable
Group riding requires even more attention to predictability than riding alone. Other riders expect you to continue straight ahead at a constant speed unless you indicate differently.
2. Use Signals
Use hand and verbal signals to communicate with members of the group and with other traffic. Hand signals for turning and stopping are as follows:
left arm straight out to signal a left turn.
left arm out and down with your palm to the rear to signal slowing or stopping.
right arm straight out to signal a right turn or put your left arm out and up.
3. Give Warnings
Warn cyclists behind you well in advance of changes in your direction or speed.
To notify the group of a change in path, the lead rider should call out "left turn" or "right turn" in addition to giving a hand signal.
4. Change Positions Correctly
Generally, slower traffic stays right, so you should try to pass others on their left. Say "on your left" to warn the cyclist ahead that you are passing.
If you need to pass someone on the right, say "on your right" clearly since this is an unusual maneuver.
5. Announce Hazards
When riding in a group, most of the cyclists do not have a good view of the road surface ahead so it is important to announce holes, glass, gravel, grates, and other hazards.
The leader should indicate road hazards by pointing down to the left or right, and by shouting "hole," "bump," etc. where required for safety
6. Watch for Traffic Coming From the Rear
Since those in front cannot see traffic approaching from the rear, it is the responsibility of the riders in back to inform the others by saying "car back."
Around curves, on narrow roads, or when riding double, it is also helpful to warn of traffic approaching from the front with "car up."
7. Watch Out at Intersections
When approaching intersections that require vehicles to yield or stop, the lead rider will say "slowing" or "stopping" to alert those behind to the change in speed.
When passing through an intersection, some cyclists say "clear" if there is no cross traffic. This is a dangerous practice that should be abandoned. It encourages riders to follow the leader, letting others do their thinking for them. Each cyclist is responsible for verifying that the way is indeed clear.
8. Leave a Gap for Cars
When riding up hills or on narrow roads where you are impeding faster traffic, leave a gap for cars between every three or four bicycles. That way a motorist can take advantage of shorter passing intervals and eventually move piecemeal around the entire group.
9. Move OFF the Road When You Stop
Whether you are stopping because of mechanical problems or to regroup with your companions, move well off the road so you don't interfere with traffic. When you start up again, each cyclist should look for, and yield to, traffic.
10. Ride 1 or 2 Across
Ride single file or double file as appropriate to the roadway and traffic conditions and where allowed by law. Most state vehicle codes permit narrow vehicles such as bicycles and motorcycles to ride double file within the lane. Even where riding double is legal, courtesy dictates that you single up when cars are trying to pass you. On two lane roads, two abreast is allowed by Florida law ONLY if you're not impeding traffic.
These 10 TIPS FOR SAFE GROUP RIDING are based on the principles taught in the League of American Bicyclists effective cycling program.
The North Florida Bike Club believes that bicycling is a fun and safe activity. Cyclists should help ensure their own safety by following safety rules. Cycling is a growing sport. Our current membership is over 500. For most of our membership the above rules are listed as a reminder. For those who are new to cycling please get into the habit of following all safety rules. Those who do not wish to follow the safety rules will not be allowed to participate in NFBC rides.