Bicycle safety tips

Join the league of the environment-conscious, and save your petrol money, by using pedal power (i.e. bicycle) instead of a four-wheeler.

But don’t forget to take precautions before you start your journey. First of all, make sure your bicycle is structurally sound and in good condition.

Are the brakes working properly? Check too that the reflectors are clean and are not warped, and adequately reflect light. Is the handlebar grip secure? Is the seat of proper height and secure?

Having done this, keep the following rules of the road in mind:

• Obey all traffic instructions, traffic lights, stop signs, one-way street signs, etc.
• Keep right and ride single file. Don’t weave in and out. Never hitch a ride onto another vehicle.
• For dusk or night riding and when atmospheric conditions warrant it, the bicycle should be equipped with a white light in front and a reflector in the rear.
• Take special precaution at all intersections. Look all ways; be sure to use proper hand signals to indicate stopping and turning.
• Always give pedestrians the right of way.
• Watch for cars pulling into traffic, and for doors opening on parked cars.
• Don’t carry passengers.
• Use the carrier for carrying packages. Never carry packages that obstruct vision or interfere with the proper control of the bicycle.
• Rider error can lead to accidents and unnecessary injuries. So always ride with care — and remember the above rules.

Proper maintenance of your bicycle is just as important for safety. Have you done the following:

• Inspect and lubricate your bicycle frequently.
• Promptly repair and replace damaged reflector and lights. (They should be visible at dusk and at night.)
• Check the tyres and their pressure from time to time.
• Wheels should rotate smoothly without wobbling from side to side. If necessary, they should be realigned. Axle nuts should be kept tight.
• Handlebars should be adjusted frequently for comfort, and for the growth of the rider. At least 65 mm of handlebar stem and seat post should be kept down in the frame. They should be securely tightened.
• Handlebar grips should fit snugley, and worn ones should be replaced.
• Periodically inspect and maintain the brakes. The coaster brake arm must be securely fastened to the frame.
• It is imperative that the shoulder of the pedal axle be securely tightened against the crank arm. Worn or damaged pedals should be replaced.
• Chains should be checked frequently for damage or stretch, and adjustments or replacements made if necessary. They should be kept clean and lubricated frequently with light oil.
• Have your bicycle inspected twice a year by a competent person.