Operating a Bike Safely


1. Never ride out into a street without stopping first.

Nearly a third of car-bike crashes involving kids occur when the kid rides a bicycle down a driveway or from a sidewalk into the street and in front of a car. You must learn to stop, look left, look right, look left again and listen to be sure no cars are coming before entering a street. Look left that second time because cars coming from the left are on your side of the street and are closer--they're the first ones that can hit you! You need to practice that: looking left, looking right and looking left again. Make it a habit. And remember, you see the car, but that does not mean the driver sees you! You must always assume that the driver has not seen you. They may be dialing a cell phone or lighting a cigarette. If there are cars parked at the curb, always go to the edge of the street where you can see the traffic coming before you start your right and left looking.
2. Obey stop signs.

Nearly a third of the car-bike crashes with kids occur when the kid rides through a stop sign or red light without yielding to crossing traffic. You must learn to stop, look left, look right, then look left again at all stop signs, stop lights and intersections before crossing. If you arrive at the intersection at the same time as a car, never assume the car sees you. Wait for them to look and wave you on before crossing, even if you are on the through street. Do you know the basics about stop signs and stop lights? You need to go to a controlled intersection with your parents and practice crossing safely. When you ride in a group, each rider must stop and make sure it is clear before crossing. (see Rule 4 below) If it's a bad intersection, walk your bike. It is the law to obey traffic signals even when no one appears to be coming. And the law about one way streets applies to you. Lots of kids get hit on one way streets going the wrong way because drivers don't expect them to be there, so they are not looking for a bike.

3. Check behind before swerving, turning or changing lanes.

Nearly a third of the car-bike crashes involving kids occur when a rider turns suddenly into the path of the cars. You must learn to look behind you, signal and look behind again before swerving, turning or changing lanes. The best place to practice this is in a quiet parking lot or playground. Ride along a straight painted line and practice looking back over your shoulder without swerving off the painted line. That's not as easy as you think. You should not ride your bike on a street until you have learned to do that.
4. Never follow another rider without applying the rules.
Many fatalities occur when the first rider violates one of the three rules above and the second one just blindly follows and gets hit by a car. The accident report will show one of the three rules above caused the crash, but the real reason was following another rider. Running stop signs or red lights, riding out of driveways or zipping across lanes all seem natural to you if you are following the other rider and not thinking about the rules. So this is a hard one to learn. Be extra careful when you are following another rider. 

The above information was obtained from the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.  For more information go to