Riding a bike is a great way to get outside for some fresh air and exercise. Plus, it can double as your transportation. Biking can be a great option if you are commuting to work, running errands, wanting to get outside more or training for a triathlon. One of the great things about Arizona is that you can enjoy outdoor activities almost all year long—so take this as a sign to put the pedal to the asphalt! But, it’s important to know how to ride a bike safely and understand the rules of the road for bicycles in Arizona.
Benefits of Biking
If you’re looking for some motivation to get moving more, consider biking if you want to:
- Put your old 10-speed to use
- Invest in a new exercise program
- Commute without breaking the bank at the gas pump
Riding a bike is a great workout for your heart and lungs because it gets you huffing and puffing. Plus, it can keep you active and moving, which can give you more energy throughout the day. Other benefits include:
- Increased muscle strength, especially in your legs but your back, core and arms will get a workout too
- Improved joint mobility in your knees and ankles from all those pedal rotations
- Lower stress, anxiety and depression
- Better posture, balance and coordination
- Lower body fat, if that’s a goal of yours, because it can burn a lot of calories
- Low-impact fitness without putting a lot of strain on your bones and joints
Bike Safety Tips
If you’re feeling inspired to jump on your seat and ride into the sunset, take a minute to make sure you have all the equipment you need. Biking safety is serious business. In 2014, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) reported more than 1,742 injuries in bike-related accidents. To help prevent accidents and injuries, there are a few cycling safety tips to know before you hit the road:
- Wear a helmet every time you ride a bike to protect your head if you fall down. The safest bike helmets have a sticker on them that says it meets the rules set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). If you think helmets are dorky, there are a lot of fashion-forward helmet brands out there now. You can look for skateboarding helmets, too. These often have colorful designs and patterns on them. Just make sure that your helmet strap fits snuggly under your chin, otherwise it won’t do a lot of good if you fall.
- Have the right-sized bicycle for your height. To check the size, stand straddling the top bar of your bike and have both feet flat on the ground. There should be 1 to 3 inches of space between you and the top bar.
- Perform a safety check before your next ride. Make sure that:
- Your seat, handlebars and wheels fit tightly
- You check and oil your chain
- You check your brakes to make sure they’re not sticking
- You add air to your tires, if needed
- Avoid loose pant legs, straps or shoelaces that can get caught in your bicycle chain
- Bring a drink. Keep in mind that you lose more fluid exercising in a warm, how humidity climate, so bring more water or sports drink than you think you will need
Rules of the Road for Bicycles
When you’re on your bike, it’s your vehicle. That means you have the same rights and responsibilities as a driver, not a pedestrian. It’s important that riders follow the rules of the road for bicycles to keep themselves and others safe. Here are a few laws you should always follow:
- Ride with the flow of traffic and to the right of the road
- Use proper arm signals before stopping or turning so drivers can anticipate your movements
- Don’t ride your bike on the sidewalk unless it’s a bike route, like along a canal
- Stay at least 3 feet from other motorists
- Always use white headlights and red reflectors after sunset or before sunrise so drivers can see you
Following these rules may help prevent a potential accident. Planning out your route ahead of time can help you stay on roads with bike lanes and less traffic. However, it’s still possible for even the most cautious cyclist to get into an accident. If you are involved in a bicycle accident, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
If you or a loved one are ever in a bike accident, you can visit our Emergency Department. If you want to incorporate cycling into your exercise program, our care team can talk with you about the health benefits of biking. Call 1-833-VLLYWSE to book an in-person or virtual appointment today.