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Santa Clarita Valley is a great place to cycle, with its beautiful rolling hills and vast bike trails to its mild weather. So good is the city for cycling that the League of American Bicyclists has officially recognized it as a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community.
But even with all the advantages that Santa Clarita offers riders, there are still risks involved with cycling in the city, including motor vehicle collisions. To lower those risks, you need to learn and follow some proven tips for cycling safely, and here are five of them.
- Consider Cycling at a Quieter Time of the Day
While you can always hit the road at any time of the day, it’s always a good idea to avoid cycling during peak hours when traffic is more congested. Generally, the deadliest time to ride a bicycle is between 4 pm and 7:59 pm followed by 8:00 pm to 11:59 pm. During these peak hours, there are often more motorists on the road, which increases the risk of a collision.
To avoid the rush hour crowds, consider taking a leisurely ride in the early morning between 5 am and 8 am or in the afternoon before 4 pm. If you must ride during peak hours, use bike lanes whenever possible and watch out for reckless drivers.
- Gear Up
Before heading out for a ride, you must ensure that you are adequately prepared with the necessary gear.
First, ensure that you have a DOT-approved helmet. Wearing a helmet does not only help reduce the risk of severe head and brain injuries in the event of a collision, but it may be mandatory in most states, meaning you may need to have it while cycling to avoid breaking the law.
Due to their small size, bicycles can be hard to spot in the heavy Santa Clarita Valley traffic. For this reason, wear bright, reflective clothing to make it easier for motorists to see you.
- Pick the Right Bike
Bicycles come in different sizes and shapes and for different uses, so ensure you pick one that suits you. Riding an ill-fitting bike can lead to various aches and pains, from sore hands and back to numbness and knee pain.
Ideally, an appropriate bike should allow you to rest both feet flat on the ground when sitting on the saddle. Moreover, ensure enough room between your crotch and the top tube or crossbar of the frame when straddling your bike. This way, you will significantly reduce the chances of being hurt if you make a sudden stop.
Besides the bike size, your choice of a bicycle should also depend on the riding you plan to do. For example, mountain bikes are great for exploring backcountry trails, while road bikes will give you more speed and comfort while commuting or racing.
- Be Predictable
While on the road, you should make it easier for other road users to anticipate your behavior by riding predictably.
Predictable cycling includes signaling your intentions clearly before changing lanes or turning. The League of American Bicyclists’ recommendation is that you signal 100 feet before your turn by pointing with your arm in the direction you want to go.
Moreover, avoid swerving suddenly in front of cars as they enter lanes and pick an imaginary straight line for riding while on the road. It would also help if you stopped at all stop signs and red lights to ensure the safety of other road users.
- Check the Weather
The weather can be a real safety hazard for cyclists. For example, if it’s too hot, you’ll be dehydrated, affecting your cycling abilities. Similarly, too much rainfall can cause visibility problems and make the road slippery, posing a significant risk of a fall or accident.
Therefore, check the weather forecast before you head out for your ride. This will help you plan your route effectively and allow you to dress appropriately for the conditions.