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Tips for Cycling Safely on Rural Roads

Guy DiMartino March 16, 2018

If you’re a cycling enthusiast, you know how great it feels to be out in the open road on your bicycle, fresh air blowing through your hair. If you ride on city or relatively urban streets, you may pay attention to different things; here are some safety tips for times when you’re lucky enough to experience the exhilaration and joy that is cycling on rural roads. Because you’ll be that much farther away from help (should the need arise), it’s of the utmost importance that you be as careful as possible.

  • Make sure someone knows where you’ll be. That way, just in case something happens (i.e., if you fall or crash, or if someone hurts you), authorities will have some idea of where to look for you. Some phones allow someone else to track your whereabouts; especially if you’re planning to ride for an extended period, this may be a good option for you.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. While it might be tempting to rock out to some of your favorite tunes, it’s not always a good idea; using earbuds makes it much less likely that you’ll be able to hear and respond to the sounds around you, such as honking, screeching or slipping tires, and even a car driving too close to you – even if the car doesn’t hit you, it could scare you and you could quickly and easily lose control of your bicycle.

  • Watch the road ahead, to the side, and behind you. Install a rear-view mirror so that you can quickly glance behind you just as you would when driving a car.

  • Pay particular attention when approaching and traveling through intersections, as those are more precarious for bicyclists. When you ride a bicycle, your visibility isn’t as great as it is for cars, trucks, and SUVs; keep that in mind.

  • Assume the cars around you don’t see you. Until the car passes you, you can’t be completely sure that you’ll be safe. That’s just one of the reasons that rural cycling is such a scary but thrilling proposition. Keep your eyes open; be mindful of those around you, and remember that cars may not see you, or see you too late to avoid you. Remember to keep an eye on both sides of the road, since the car on your side may want or need to go a bit into the other lane to give you enough room.

  • Obey the rules of the road. Remember that bicycles are subject to many of the same rules and regulations of the road. For example, do not go faster than the posted speed limit. Additionally, you should come to a full and complete stop at all stop signs. Stop lights also apply to you; do not ride through a red light – rather, wait for the light to turn green before proceeding through the light.

    These rules help everyone stay safe – not just you, and not just cars.

  • Don’t stop on the road, or, if you absolutely must, make sure that you and your bicycle can be easily seen and avoided by oncoming cars; pull completely out of the way of traffic so that your presence doesn’t cause any accidents or distraction.

  • Own your portion of the roadway. If you are riding on the fog line don’t move right when a vehicle is passing. Don’t give up your piece of the road. The right side of the roadway can be chopped up and eaten away, so if you move to the right, the odds are you can lose control of your bike. On the other hand, if you stay put, the vehicle approaching you has seen you for a while, and will be able to move to the left or wait for passing traffic to pass before moving to the left to pass.