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Tips for safe bicycle commuting

There are countless benefits to bicycle commuting. It'll save you money on gas. It's good for the environment. It'll spare you the mind-numbing boredom of sitting in traffic. And, best of all, it's a great way to stay in shape (or train for that upcoming triathlon).

Of course, like everything in life, biking to work does come with risks. By staying aware of those risks - and making safety a priority - you can reduce your chances of getting sidelined by an accident or injury.

Follow these tips to stay safe on your ride to work:

  • Invest in the right gear. Safety equipment such as helmets, reflective clothing and high-quality lights can go a long way toward avoiding crashes (and protecting yourself in the event of a collision). Dress for the conditions and distance, opting for weather-appropriate workout clothes instead of work attire. And rather than wearing a backpack, which can throw off your balance, get a saddlebag for storing a change of clothes and other items.
  • Keep your bike in good shape.Bring it in for regular tune-ups and check the tire pressure before you ride. Additionally, attach a trunk bag with supplies such as an air pump, tire iron, multitool and spare tire.
  • Follow the rules of the road. Unless you're lucky enough to have a direct route to work via a dedicated bike path, you'll likely have to ride in traffic. That means following all traffic rules - like staying in the right lane (or bicycle lane, if there is one), stopping at stop signs and traffic lights, and yielding to pedestrians.
  • Be predictable. When you're riding in traffic, other vehicles represent the single biggest risk to your safety. Avoid sudden or unpredictable maneuvers whenever possible. Signal your intentions before turning, slowing or stopping.
  • Pay attention. Never assume that drivers can see you (or are paying attention). Anticipate potential hazards and stay alert to what's going on around you at all times. Finally, don't cross in front of a vehicle without making eye contact.

There's no need to let the risks of cycling deter you from biking to work. By taking the right precautions, you can stay safe while enjoying the many benefits of bicycle commuting.

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