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Five Tips for Safe Cycling in the City

bicycle safetyPeople who live in Hampton Roads are fortunate to live within safe biking distance to work, school and stores. Unfortunately, many families don’t take advantage of these opportunities to get exercise due to safety concerns.

May 9 is National Walk or Bike to School Day. May is also Norfolk Bike Month, full of events to encourage people to use the new BikeShare program and many bike paths in the city. The goal of these events is not only to create safer paths for children and all bikers, but to encourage people to participate in a fun and useful physical activity.

You can participate in these special events and increase how much you bike around Hampton Roads by following this bike safety advice:

Always Wear a Helmet

In Virginia, all children under 14 years of age are legally required to wear a helmet when biking. Though adults aren’t required to, a helmet can save your life. Whether you are biking in a low-traffic neighborhood or along a busy road, put your helmet on to protect against possibly fatal head injuries.

Pretend You Are Driving

Whether or not there are bike lanes, bicyclists are required to follow the same rules of the road as motorists. This means stopping at red lights, signaling turns, biking in the direction of traffic in your lane and yielding to pedestrians. Following these rules can help prevent bike and car collisions that result from miscommunication.

Take the Lane

In Virginia, bicyclists are encouraged to pedal in the middle of the lane so that drivers can clearly see them. Taking the lane puts you in the safest position on the road, away from parked cars and out of blind spots of drivers.

Practice If You Are Rusty

Has it been awhile since you’ve ridden a bike? Before you get out on busier roads, take your bike to the Elizabeth River Trail or other parks in the area where you can bike on paths dedicated for their use. Practicing in these areas is safe and gives you time to get used to biking again.

As you gear up to use bike lanes or streets, you can also ride on the sidewalks, according to Virginia law. However, you should ride at a slower speed, always yield to pedestrians, follow pedestrian rules in crosswalks and always pass on the left. You should also use a bell or other method to warn pedestrians that you are coming.

Do A Safety Check

Your bike should fit your body. The seat and handlebars should be adjusted to the right height for you. You should also check to make sure your brakes, chains, and tires are all in working order before heading out on the street.

Bon Secours In Motion supports athletes of all levels as they work to get fit, whether you just bike to work or bike for competition. Learn more about our adult performance, youth fitness, and adult fitness programs to ensure you are ready for the road.