Stay Safe and Avoid Chafe: 5 Things Not to Wear on Your Bike
1) Don’t Ride With a Baggy Trousers
2) Don’t Ride with a Scarf or Hoodie Over Your Head
3) Don’t Wear Sunglasses While Riding
4) If You Are Going to Wear Clothing, Choose Cotton Jeans or Lightweight Shorts Instead of Spandex Pants
5) Keep Your Shirt On at All Times!
The following are some tips for riding safely and avoiding chafing. Remember, these suggestions only apply if you choose to ride in clothing.
If you don’t want to wear any clothes, then these recommendations will not work for you.
Don’t Ride With a Baggy Trousers
If your pants have bagginess around the waist area, it means that they’re too tight around your thighs and hips. When you ride, your legs move back and forth.
So when you put on a pair of loose fitting pants, your body moves forward and backward, which causes friction between your skin and the fabric. This friction makes it difficult for you to breathe because air gets squeezed out of the way. No matter how baggy the pants are, they must always fit snugly against your thighs and hips. Baggy clothing is dangerous.
Don’t Ride with a Scarf or Hoodie Over Your Head
When you wear a scarf or hoodie over your head, the fabric rubs against your face and neck as you ride. This can irritate and even cut your skin when combined with wind.
A common solution is to wear a buff over your head as an extra layer of protection. The risk with that is you could easily overheat and wear too much clothing. You could get off your bike and pass out from heat stroke! The best way to stay cool and protect yourself from the wind is to keep your head free of any fabric. Let the wind wash over your face as you ride. This keeps you from overheating.
Don’t Wear Sunglasses While Riding
Most bikers want to look cool by wearing sunglasses, but it can be very dangerous. When you ride your bike, you have a very focused stare at all times because you’re constantly looking for potential hazards like cars and potholes.
Wearing sunglasses narrows your range of vision and makes you less aware of what’s going on around you. You could miss seeing something important and get into an accident. So when you ride, it’s best not to wear sunglasses.
If You Are Going to Wear Clothing, Choose Cotton Jeans or Lightweight Shorts Instead of Spandex Pants
Spandex pants and other form fitting clothing can be dangerous while biking. Your legs move back and forth as you pedal.
This motion causes friction between your legs and the fabric. When you add tight spandex to this situation, you have a recipe for severe chafing. It doesn’t matter how much anti-chafing cream you put on either. You could have the best skin care products money can buy, but it won’t stop your skin from being rubbed raw. No matter what you’re going to get sores no matter what. Plus, tight clothing restricts blood flow which can actually cause numbness in your legs as well as lead to dangerous heat exhaustion.
To prevent skin irritation, you should wear baggy clothing such as cotton jeans or lightweight hiking shorts. You still want to wear something comfortable while riding, so clothing like this will keep you cool and feeling good.
Just make sure your clothing can “breathe.” Coating yourself in sunscreen before your ride is also a good idea. This provides a protective layer of skin care that will keep the sun from burning your skin through your clothing.
Stay Away From the Edges of Roadways
Many beginning riders make the mistake of riding too close to the edge of the road. Bicycles are considered vehicles just like cars.
This means you have every right to ride in the middle of a lane. When you ride in the middle of a lane, you increase your visibility to other motorists. You don’t have to worry about being clipped by a car pulling out of a side road. Riding in the middle of a lane also keeps you safer in case of a head on collision. On many busy streets, there is a designated bike lane. If there isn’t one, you should still ride in the middle of the road.
Whatever you do, don’t ride on the sidewalk! This is illegal and very dangerous as well.
In some states, it’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk, even if you’re under the age of 16. Sidewalks are made for walking, not biking. When you ride on them, you are more likely to get hit by a car because drivers don’t expect bikes on the sidewalk. When you ride your bike on the street, cars will typically slow down before turning into a side road. This isn’t the case on the sidewalk since cars aren’t expecting bikes to come zipping around the corner. Riding on the sidewalk is also more dangerous because you don’t have as much control over your bike. Riding on the sidewalk is like riding on ice. It’s much harder to stop and turn. Even if you have great balance, you’re still at risk of falling which could lead to serious injury.
If You Can Ride With The Flow Of Traffic, It’s Safer Than Riding Against It
Always ride with the flow of traffic. Riding against traffic is more dangerous since you have to watch out for oncoming traffic as well as all the cars driving the correct way on the road.
When you’re riding with traffic, all you have to do is focus on the cars that are coming towards you. It’s also better to ride with traffic because drivers expect to see bicycles on the road. You don’t want to be a nuisance by riding against traffic and startling motorists. If you’re new to the area, learn which way the traffic flows and ride in that direction.
Use Proper Hand Signals
Always let other motorists know what you’re doing by using hand signals. When you want to turn or change lanes, simply extend your arm in the desired direction.
Don’t be shy about using hand signals. If you don’t want to extend your arm, you can also use hand signals by simply extending your arm and rotating your hand in the desired direction. To indicate a stop, simply raise your entire forearm in the air. This will let motorists know that you’re going to be stopping soon. Some riders choose to use their thumb to point in the direction that they’re heading. This isn’t a good idea since it can be easily misinterpreted.
In many states, it’s illegal to ride without a helmet. If you don’t have a helmet, you can still be ticketed.
It’s best to wear one at all times when you’re on your bike.
If you’re new to riding and still getting used to balancing, wear a helmet. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
It’s also important that you don’t wear any headphones or listen to any music while you’re out on your bike. Your full attention should be on the road.
If you want to listen to music, wait until you get to your destination.
Choose The Right Lane Before Making A Turn
Before turning, make sure that there are no cars in the lane that you’re turning into. If there are cars in that lane, it means you’ll have to squeeze by them which is risky and could cause an accident.
If there’s no parking lane, it’s best to turn from the middle lane because you’ll have room to complete your turn. If there’s a parking lane, wait until there’s no oncoming traffic and then make your turn.
You should also avoid making any turns just as a road merges into yours. It’s best to get up to speed and then make your turn because if you’re in the middle of a lane and trying to slow down, you could cause an accident.
Ride To The Right To Let Cars Pass If There Is Oncoming Traffic
If you’re riding on a two-way road where there is oncoming traffic, you should always ride as far to the right side of the lane as possible. This lets cars pass you.
Never ride alongside a car since this is very dangerous and can lead to a collision.
You should only ride alongside a car if there are two lanes going in your direction. If this is the case, it’s better to stay towards the middle of the right lane since if a car comes from the other direction, you’ll have room to move over.
Staying in the middle of the lane could cause a car to try and pass you on the right which is a very unsafe move for the driver and you.
If there are no cars coming from the other direction then it’s best to ride towards the right side of the lane since this will force cars to pass you on the left which is much safer for you and the driver.
You have to be very careful whenever a car is passing you. Make sure that there are no oncoming cars since this could lead to a collision.
If a car wants to pass you, they’ll occasionally blast their horn to get you to move over. If this happens, stay as far to the right as possible and make sure you’re prepared to maneuver your bike away from the side of the road if necessary.
Don’t ever make eye contact with the driver or try to argue with them. Avoid making any hand gestures or other actions.
Just move to the right and keep on riding since arguing with a driver is never a good idea and could result in you falling over.
Most drivers will eventually go back into their own lane once they’ve passed you. If they don’t, this means that they’re going to try and pass you on the left which is very dangerous for both of you.
It’s best not to make them angry so just move over and let them pass. Just make sure that they don’t end up hitting you when they try to merge back into the lane.
Wait until they’re completely past you and don’t make any sudden moves since this could cause the driver to panic and hit you anyway.
Getting Hit From The Rear Or Side
If a car ever hits you from behind or the side, it’s best not to stop but to keep on going since there might be another vehicle coming towards you that doesn’t see you.
If you do get hit, push off the side of the road and keep going until you can find a place where there aren’t any cars.
Don’t wait around to see if someone is going to stop since they probably won’t and it’s not worth getting into an argument with a stranger.
If the driver does stop, they might try to blame you for something. Don’t say anything and just get away from the scene as quickly as possible.
If the driver doesn’t stop, then you should report the incident to the police since this might be considered a hit and run.
Make sure that you have a witness or two with you when you talk to the police.
You can ask bystanders or your friends if they saw what happened and write down their names since the police will probably question them as well and you don’t want them to tell the police something different than they told you.
Don’t try to fix your bike at the scene since this can be considered destruction of evidence. Leave everything as it is until the police arrive.
You should go to a hospital no matter what since you could have serious internal injuries from this accident.
Never admit that you were at fault no matter what since the insurance company might refuse to pay for any damages or injuries.
In the state of California, you probably won’t be at fault if the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
They might also try to argue that you stayed in the middle of the lane, which would be against the law.
You’re not required to ride on the right side of the road and it’s perfectly legal for you to take up an entire lane.
Even if you’re in the wrong, it’s still safer for you to take up an entire lane rather than risk getting hit from behind within the lane.
If a police officer was around when the accident happened, ask him what he saw.
Insurance should cover any damage to your bike regardless of who’s at fault.
If they try to give you a hard time about this, contact your local cycling club or the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
If this accident happened within city limits, then you can also file a complaint against the driver for violating the California Vehicle Code.
While it probably wasn’t your fault, you can always try to find someone else to blame.
Maybe the person who painted the lane markers didn’t space them far enough apart.
Or maybe the city should have installed more lighting since it is dangerous to ride a bike at night on this street.
Always point out any safety hazards that might have contributed to the accident.
You can also blame global warming since it typically gets dark earlier now than it did twenty years ago and cyclists need more light to be seen at night.
You can complain about the city for not enforcing the lighting laws since businesses with large signs that block the sidewalks probably don’t even have permits.
While this might seem like an unlikely scenario, owners of businesses are notorious for speeding on local streets in their cars.
They might not even know that they were driving on the wrong side of the road when they hit you since their business is located on the other side of town.
If this accident happened on a major thoroughfare, then the city might have dark streets on purpose to encourage drivers to travel at faster speeds.
Of course, this would be terrible for anyone on a bicycle since it’s harder to see them at night.
You should consider taking an online course on bicycle safety.
Over a thousand people are killed every year in the United States because they were hit by a car while riding a bicycle.
Bicyclists are invisible to most drivers and you can reduce your risk of getting hit by staying alert and being seen.
Always wear bright clothing, use front and back bike lights, and try to avoid riding at night.
If you do find yourself in a collision, here’s a link to guidelines for what to do after a crash.
You probably shouldn’t say anything unless the police officer asks you a direct question.
If he does, then you should politely tell him that you’d like to speak to a lawyer before answering any questions.
Miraculously, no damage was done to your bike and you don’t appear to be injured.
You are shaken up but decide to finish your ride home.
Since you can’t stop shaking, you decide it would be best to ride home.
The entire way, you keep thinking about the accident and the fact that you could have been killed if the SUV were just a little faster.
Your heart is pounding and your pace is much quicker than normal.
There is a report on the local news about a hit and run fatality involving a pedestrian.
You get chills when you realize it happened near the site of your accident.
You arrive home and tell your wife that you need to speak to a lawyer first thing in the morning.
You spend the evening too shaken up to do anything else.
After Googling bicycle accidents and attorneys (which you really shouldn’t do from your work computer), you find one with a good online reputation and call them in the morning.
The lawyer tells you not to worry about anything.
They will pay to have your bike repaired and replaced, your medical bills will be paid, and they will even provide compensation for lost income if any should accrue.
He says they’ll track down the owner of the SUV and hold them accountable.
He reminds you to not talk to anyone about the accident or post anything about it on social media.
Everything happens just as the lawyer said it would.
You bike is replaced, your medical bills are paid and you even received compensation for lost income when you had to take time off work.
You’re spared from having to make a statement and the driver of the SUV is arrested when police find the wrecked vehicle in their garage.
Just another day in the life of an accident victim it seems.
Now, if only we could get our health care system to work as efficiently.
You’ve been compensated monetarily for your accident.
However, you probably could have used the extra exercise.
Your bike probably would have been just as damaged even if you weren’t hit.
The driver of the SUV was probably already a little angry and distracted when they hit you and it doesn’t help that they fled the scene.
They might have caused more damage anyway by trying to pull away while you were still caught in your bike.
You probably could have swerved into the oncoming traffic lane and past the SUV when you saw it coming.
Only one of those options would have probably resulted in your fatality.
By choosing to stay on your bike and in the same place, you allowed yourself a chance to live.
You definitely don’t have any broken bones and only suffered some minor cuts and scrapes.
Your leg muscles are a little sore, but that should pass in a few days.
You’re very, very lucky that you weren’t more seriously injured.
Now, whenever you ride your bike, you’ll never experience the feeling of fear and dread that you felt during the accident.
Nothing has changed about your route or what you do while riding except for your attitude towards riding itself.
You now have a major fear of being hit by a car or SUV because of your experience and this may keep you from riding as much as you once did.
You used to look forward to riding your bike during the summer, but now you’re just dreading it because it’s a constant reminder of your accident.
If you continue to let this fear consume you, you might start making up reasons not to ride your bike.
Wow, what an experience.
Hopefully, you won’t let it change the way you live the rest of your life.
You probably should talk to a psychologist about what you experienced as they can help you get over some of the post-traumatic stress you may have developed.
If you do this, the first step is to contact your insurance company and see what kind of benefits they offer for this type of situation.
You can try calling a local provider or checking out websites that offer online therapy.
You think back to when you were a kid and some of the unfortunate kids in your class who had to take “special classes” for kids with learning difficulties or behavior problems.
Those kids probably had undiagnosed cases of PTSD from similar incidents.
It would be a good idea to talk to a professional about what happened, not only for your own mental well-being, but also to make sure you don’t develop long-term problems that might affect the rest of your life.
You can also choose not to seek any kind of help at all for your situation.
You could chalk this up as just one of those things and try to learn from the experience and move on.
No matter what you do, you’ll probably never forget being trapped under that car and staring at your smashed leg before the ambulance arrived.
You really hope you don’t have to experience anything like that ever again.
Sources & references used in this article:
Common cycling injuries by MB Mellion – Sports Medicine, 1991 – Springer
Bicycle-related injuries by MJ Thompson, FP Rivara – American Family Physician, 2001 – aafp.org
Outdoor Activities Affect Our Skin by A Vaughn – dermveda.com