Ride On! Bicycling Safety Tips

In celebration of National Bike Month, Roper St. Francis rolls out some tips for safe riding, and hopes readers will reap all the health benefits of biking.

May is National Bike Month, but we think every month is perfect in the beautiful, flat terrain of the Lowcountry to explore and/or commute by bike. Whether you enjoy biking around the neighborhood for recreation, suiting up in your spandex and cranking out miles for fun and fitness, or the ease and fun (and no parking hassles) of pedaling to work or the store, the health benefits are big for all riders.

Bicycling is aerobic exercise that strengthens heart, lungs and muscles, improves circulation and improves brain health. Those who bicycle regularly (or walk, run, swim or do other forms of exercise) have lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure cancer and other chronic illnesses. Bicycling is also a great way to meet and interact with people in your neighborhood, which improves your sense of social connection and has health benefits of its own.

Despite these many benefits, many people do not ride as much as they would like to because they don’t feel safe. In honor of National Bike Month, we encourage you to refresh yourself on these rules of the road tips for enhancing bicycle safety so you will feel comfortable and empowered to ride and reap all these benefits.

3 Important Rules for Cyclists to Know:

  1. A bicycle in South Carolina is considered a vehicle and MUST follow all traffic rules. So: stop at ALL stop lights and signs. Signal before turning. Ride on the road, NOT the sidewalk (unless road conditions dictate otherwise or you are with young children). Yield to pedestrians.
  2. Bicyclists have a right to the road, and indeed have a right to take up a full lane if the road conditions are unsafe closer to the shoulder. However, never assume a car sees you. Do not provoke drivers. Remember that courtesy goes a long way.
  3. Bicycles must have a front light and rear red light at night or in dark conditions.

injured bicyclist

3 Important Health Tips for Riders:

  1. Drink plenty of water. A person bicycling at a moderate pace burns about 600 calories per hour, which is good news. But all that energy being expended requires hydration to keep the body cool and muscles functioning efficiently, especially in Charleston’s humid climate.
  2. Wear sunglasses. Not only will good quality sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun, but it will keep bugs, dirt and other environmental hazards from hurting your eyes or impacting your vision.
  3. Stretch! Bicycling is an excellent workout, but it can stress the lower back (if using downturned handlebars) and make hips tight. Stretching your hips, quads, psoas, neck and back before and after you ride will enhance your comfort and keep your muscles ready to ride.