Bicycle safety for college students
For many students, the bicycle represents more than just a quick way to get around campus - it is an inexpensive, environmentally safe form of transportation.
Bicycling to and from class can help keep students in good physical shape, and many students find than they save time because parking is more convenient and closer to campus.
- Wear a helmet. Before you get on your bike, put on a helmet. Make sure chin straps are adjusted properly, buckled and snug. Unlike broken bones and road rash, head injuries can be debilitating or deadly. Wearing your helmet may save your life!
- Share the road. Always share the road with cars when riding on streets. Learning how to safely ride in traffic is a critical step in using your bicycle as a means of transportation. Select routes that you feel confident riding at your skill level. Riding with an experienced partner can also help.
- Lock it up. College campuses are notorious bike theft locations. Whenever you are away from your bike, lock it up. Secure the bike frame and front tire to the rack for best results.
- Know your route. Don't bike on a route or street if you are not familiar with its traffic flow, terrain, or shoulder width. Carry a cell phone or money for a pay phone in case you stray into unfamiliar territory. Don't use headphones while riding your bike, it's against the law.
Rules of the Road
Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as any other driver of a vehicle.
While a driver's license is not required to ride a bike, bicyclists are required to know and obey all traffic laws such as stopping at stop signs and traffic lights and signaling before turning or changing lanes.
- Never ride against traffic. A high percentage of all car/bike collisions result from cyclists going the wrong way. Stay to the right if you are moving slower than other traffic, maintain a constant position in the lane about three feet away from the curb or parked cars.
- Do not weave in and out of parked cars. Maintaining a presence on the road will help drivers see you and will reduce the chance that motor vehicles will pull in front of you.
- If lanes are too narrow to share with motor vehicles, the safest place to ride your bicycle is in the middle of the lane. If the lanes become wider, move over to the far right side again. Many cyclists believe they are safer and more comfortable riding further to the right than suggested here, but riding too far to the right puts the cyclist in greater danger. Poor sightlines, opening car doors, and unforeseen roadway hazards can lead to serious injuries, and even death.
- When you're about to cross an intersection, maintain a direct path through the intersection. Don't veer to the left or right.
- Practice looking over your shoulder, behind you for traffic. This simple but essential skill allows you to move safely left or right to avoid a hazard, change lanes, or make a turn. Looking over your shoulder makes drivers pay attention to you. Master this skill even if you have a mirror.
- Communicate the direction you are turning with hand signals at least 100 feet prior to a turn or change in lanes. Traffic flows smoother when drivers predict what others will do based on traffic laws. By following traffic laws and being aware of your surroundings your bicycle rides will be much safer.
On multi-use paths, bicycles should yield to pedestrians, and do not pass unless there is room. Slow down and call out "on your left" or "on your right" before passing cyclists, skaters, runners or walkers. Riding on the sidewalk is normally not safe because bicyclists move faster than pedestrians and are hard to hear.
Always yield to pedestrians when you are in their space, and dismount if pedestrian traffic is high. Be alert where sidewalks cross alleys, driveways and streets - look left, right and left again before proceeding.
Wanna Bike More?
If you just can't get enough biking, consider joining the bicycle polo club at the Campus Rec Center. www.usf.edu/campusrec
Don't have a bike? Borrow one from our Borrow our Bikes program. They provide free helmets with the rental. www.usf.edu/CampRec/Outdoor/borrowourbikes.asp, 813-974-3177