For most Filipinos, cycling used to simply be a form of exercise and hobby. But now, it seems that it’s the go-to transportation mode in the “new normal”. Though there have been issues with pop-up bike lanes set up by independent groups, some cities in the Metro have been keen on providing bike lanes. If you’ve recently invested in a bicycle to bring to work, we’ve rounded up some important cycling tips to keep you safe on the road.
Wear the correct protective gear
Bicycles don’t give you the same security as cars and buses. You’re literally exposed on the road and it’s important you equip yourself with safety gear. Wear a helmet that is brightly colored so that you’ll be easily seen. Also wear elbow and knee pads, just in case you get thrown off your bike or skid. Attach mirrors on your handlebars so you’re aware of your surroundings, especially when taking turns. You might also want to attach a small bell because, like driving a car, signals are important.
Think as if you’re riding a car
Remember, you’re still riding a vehicle. Be alert: look straight ahead, scan left and right, especially when you’re making turns. Familiarize yourself with road signs, signals, and learn hand signals as well. Be mindful of your surroundings: approaching cars, pedestrians, and other things that might be going on the road.
Don’t assume cars can see you
With pop-up bike lanes being removed by the authorities and the lack of proper bike lanes, cycling in the metro is still dangerous. Don’t assume that cars can see you and it’s best to make eye contact and watch their tires before you move. When you have to ride in the evening, attach front and rear lights, as well as reflectors on your bike so that you’re easily visible. Even your helmet must be reflective too, and make use of your bell!
It’s also important to keep your distance from cars, especially when they’re at a stop or park. One of the most common accidents among urban bikers being doored, or accidentally running into an opening car door.
Don’t wear earphones
You might’ve gotten used to playing music or listening to a podcast on your commute to and from work. But that shouldn’t be the case when you’re cycling on the road. It’s important to be alert at all times since you’re pedaling on the highway; anything you’re listening to might distract you from that. You won’t be able to hear any commotions behind you or on the road, especially when there’s a speeding emergency vehicle. And it’s obvious that this only leads to accidents.
Plan your route
The safest you can be is when you avoid traffic. You can use apps like Google Maps to look for alternative routes and find quieter roads, which means you’re less likely to meet accidents. But that doesn’t mean you should be uber-confident. Eyes! On! The! Road!
Especially when you’re passing by junctions. Remember the previous rule: cars won’t always see you. Don’t beat red lights and always look left and right when making turns. It’s also better to ride closer to the left side of the lane because you can’t assume that all drivers would follow rules. If you ride closer to the right, rude drivers would tend to overtake, leaving room for accidents.
Bring a patch kit or tube
Because you never really know when you’ll encounter rough road or run into an object that would damage your tires. Always bring a patch kit or tube because vulcanizing shops aren’t always available along highways. They provide a quick fix and you’ll be cycling more safely.
Should you wear a mask when cycling?
Yes, because it’s mandatory whenever you go out. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S. recommends wearing masks outside, even when exercising — biking is no excuse. Cycling is certainly the new normal and sooner or later, more cyclists will be out on the road. You can’t avoid being near other people – wear a mask. Cloth masks are okay but if you want to give yourself more protection, Skratch Labs recommends adding waterproof material. Check out how you can create a waterproof mask at home using an old t-shirt here.
Remember, eyes on the road. Stay safe, folks!