As a beginner cyclist, it is important to understand the dos and don’ts of cycling to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Whether you’re commuting to work, taking a leisurely ride on the weekend, or training for a race, there are certain rules and best practices that you should follow. In this article, I will cover some of the key dos and don’ts of cycling that every beginner should know.
Do: Wear Proper Gear
One of the most important things you can do as a beginner cyclist is to wear the proper gear. This includes a properly fitting helmet, comfortable cycling clothes, and sturdy shoes. Your helmet should fit snugly and sit level on your head, with the chin strap securely fastened. Cycling clothes should be comfortable and breathable, with padded shorts to prevent chafing and a lightweight jersey to keep you cool. Finally, wear shoes with a stiff sole and good traction, ideally cycling shoes that clip into your pedals for improved efficiency.
Don’t: Ignore Traffic Laws
As a cyclist, you are subject to the same traffic laws as cars and trucks. This means you have to stop at red lights (don’t do the thing we hate to see), you have to signal your turns (how else can the others know what your plans are) and you have to ride in the correct direction. Easy, huh? Ignoring traffic laws not only puts you at risk of a collision but can also result in fines or legal trouble. Always follow the rules of the road to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
Do: Use Hand Signals
Hand signals are an important part of cycling and are used to communicate with other cyclists and drivers on the road. Use hand signals to indicate turns, stops, and lane changes, so that others can anticipate your movements and adjust their own accordingly. When making a turn, extend your arm in the direction of the turn, with your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle. When stopping, extend your arm downward, with your palm facing behind you.
Don’t: Ride Without Lights
If you plan to ride your bike after dark or in low light conditions, it is essential to have lights on your bike. This includes a white light on the front and a red light on the back, as well as reflectors on your pedals and wheels. Lights and reflectors help to make you more visible to drivers and other cyclists, reducing the risk of collisions. Make sure your lights are fully charged and in good working condition before heading out on a ride.
Do: Plan Your Route
Before heading out on a ride, take some time to plan your route. Consider the distance, terrain, and traffic conditions, as well as any potential hazards or obstacles along the way. Use a map or GPS to navigate, and be prepared to make adjustments if necessary. Planning your route ahead of time can help you avoid getting lost or stuck in unfamiliar areas, ensuring a smoother and more enjoyable ride.
Don’t: Ride Too Close to Cars
When riding on the road, it is important to give cars and other vehicles plenty of space. Don’t ride too close to cars or try to pass them on the right, as this can be dangerous and increases the risk of a collision. Instead, ride in the middle of the lane or to the left, making yourself more visible to drivers and giving them enough room to pass safely. If you feel uncomfortable riding in traffic, consider taking a less busy route or riding on bike paths or trails instead.