Bicycle Safety - Checklist

Your bike helmet is your most important piece of biking equipment. Wear it AT ALL TIMES, even for short trips. It can save your life.

Proper fit of bicycle helmets is very important. It should fit snugly on your head and rest securely on your forehead. To be effective it cannot be tilted forward or backward but must sit centered on the top of the head. Make sure the straps are adjusted every time you ride. When buying a bike helmet, choose one with an ANSI or Snell approval sticker. Only these helmets have passed important safety tests.

Always wear bright or highly visible clothing. Avoid clothing that can get caught in the bike chain or wheel spokes. Use a strap or band to secure pant legs if necessary. Make sure shoelaces are securely tied. A reflective vest and leg or arm reflector is recommended at all times.
V.I.M. (Very Important Message)
Always carry identification in case of an accident. The identification should include your name, age, address and phone number, as well as the name and phone number of who to contact in case of an emergency.

This is for everybody, not just for kids!!!

Check your air pressure. Tires should be firm to the touch. Examine them for cuts, cracks or bulges. Following these steps will reduce the chances of popping a tire while you are riding.
Your bike should have front and rear reflectors. Check to make sure they are secured tightly and are clean. If you are riding after dark you should also have a white light for the front of your bike and a red light for the rear. Your local bicycle shop will be able to advise you which lights best suit your bicycle and riding style.
Make sure wheels are locked in tightly to prevent them from popping out. Check for loose spokes. These cause the wheel to wobble and should be repaired.

If you are getting a buildup of brake pad material on the sides of your wheels, use a very fine grit of emery cloth and sand the areas to remove the buildup.

Make sure your seat is secure. Having your seat drop suddenly while riding can cause you to lose control of your bike. Adjust the seat height so your knees are slightly bent when the pedals are in their lowest position.
Your chain should be well lubricated. It's a good idea to clean and lubricate it once a month or after riding through mud or water. Do not use engine oil. This attracts dust and dirt to your chain. If your chain is loose or keeps coming off it can be easily adjusted.

Your local bike shop can recommend the proper chain lubricant and also show you how to adjust the chain.

Hand brakes should tighten and release smoothly and quickly. To test them, squeeze levers as you push your bike forward. Your wheels should not move. Your brake pads should be replaced every season or when they are obviously worn down.

If your brakes are squealing everytime you apply them they should be adjusted to a slightly "toe-in" position. Your local bike shop can help you set them to the proper angle.

It may be necessary to warn pedestrians of your approach. A horn, bell or whistle is recommended, and in many states, required
Make sure the handlebars are tight. If it can be moved in any direction it MUST be tightened before the bike is ridden again. While checking your handlebars also check your headseat. Hold the front wheel stationary with the front brake. Rock forward then backward over the bars. If there is any movement or "play" in the headset it must be checked by a qualified bicycle mechanic.

Use grips or tape on the handlebars for better control.

When you ride, especially long distances, always carry the following:
  • spare inner tube or patch kit
  • tire irons
  • mini-screwdriver
  • coins for an emergency call or a cell phone

Bicycle Safety On The Road

Stay as far to the right side of the road as practicable. This does not mean you must ride through ruts and holes along the road edge, however. If you are riding on a road that had a very rough edge ride consistently just to the left of the rough area instead of swerving around the holes. This makes your behavior predictable to passing cars which is always much safer.

Ride in single file and always with the flow of traffic.

Use hand signals when you stop or make a turn. This lets drivers and other bicycle riders know what you are going to do. Use your left hand to signal as indicated in the pictures below.

Keep both hands on the handlebar. Never carry passenger, pull others or be pulled by other cyclists or vehicles, and avoid overloading baskets so you can't see. Also, don't try tricks or go faster than your experience and skill level permits. Numerous people are injured every year trying to do things they see friends do or that they see on T.V.
Always slow down through intersections looking to the right and left before proceeding. This is important even if you have the right of way. If the intersection is busy get off your bike and walk it through.
Watch for road hazards such as potholes, glass and sand. Animals (dogs, squirrels, etc.) can also be road hazards, running out in front of you or chasing after you. Also watch for parked vehicles entering traffic, doors opening unexpectedly or cars pulling out of driveways. Be aware of all traffic in your immediate vicinity, in front, behind and on both sides of you. This can keep you from being surprised by an unexpected vehicle.
Dusk or night riding is extremely dangerous even with reflective clothing. If necessary, walk your bike home at night or call someone to pick you up. In Michigan, as in most other states, front and rear lights are required if you ride on the road after dusk. (see Michigan traffic code for bicycles).
Stop, look left, right and left AGAIN before leaving a sidewalk, driveway, alley or parking lot. Enter traffic only when the road is clear. As mentioned above, do this even if you have the right of way.
Ride your bike as though you were driving a car. For your own safety and others', be sure to stop at all red lights and obey all street signs.
Whenever you ride on the road you want all other traffic to know what you are going to do. This helps keep you and everyone else much safer. The easiest way to do this is to observe ALL the traffic rules, don't weave in and out of traffic, and use hand signals when turning or stopping.
Observing common courtesy rules is very important, especially when you realize you are sharing the road with hundreds of 3000 pound automobiles. Added to that these are being driven by people you don't know who may react to situations different from yourself. So be courteous and be safe.
I know you have heard this over and over but it is that IMPORTANT. You should always wear a bike helmet when riding but it is especially important when riding on the road with all those 3000 pound cars. Even if you are riding slow and being very cautious the unexpected can occur and you go over the bars and onto your head.

For anything not covered here please visit What Every Michigan Bicyclist Needs to Know

Frankenmuth Police Department
240 W. Genesee, Frankenmuth, MI 48734

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