Make some noise: A bell or horn is a great way to let others know you are approaching and/or passing.
Mirrors:Bike mirrors are a great way to see what is happening behind you. Some mirrors can mount on the ends of your handlebars and others mount on your helmet.
Find a safe route to ride:Choosing a biking route on less busy side streets or bike/pedestrian pathways is a great way to stay safe.
Check out Google Maps for bike route ideas in your town. Go to their directions area and select the bike icon when looking for a bike route. Here is an example:
Your local bike shop(s) will most likely have a bike route map of your town and advice on safe biking routes as well.
Watch out for others
Ride defensively and always be on the look out for cars, other bikers, pedestrians, and dogs.
And make sure others know what you are doing by signaling a turn.
Biking is a lot of fun and it can be easy to kick back and enjoy the ride but make sure you keep your head up for potential problems.
Cars! A good rule of thumb is to always think that a car driver cannot see you. Be on the look out for cars in intersections and try to estimate where they are going. Remember that they don’t always use their turning signals!
If you are riding in a bike lane on the side of a road always be prepared for a car to pass you and then turn right in front of you. Sad to say it happens, but if you are aware of it you can be prepared to hit the brakes.
Also be aware of parked cars. There is the possibility that someone in the car could open their door as you ride by. Watch for people sitting in parked cars and give them enough room so that an open door won’t be a problem.
Other bikers: Watch out for rogue bikers on the roads and pathways! You may see other bikers riding the wrong direction in the bike path you are in, you may see them on the sidewalks (generally a bad idea), they may be riding with no lights at night, they may be weaving in and out of car traffic, or blowing through stop signs or red lights.
Overall, watch out for these types of riders and steer clear! And if you get the chance, politely tell them that they are not helping the biking community.
Pedestrians: Be careful when riding by pedestrians. Use your bell and say “On Your Left (or right)” within enough distance to not startle them when you go by. Slow down a bit and say “Hi”. Be especially careful if they have a dog and give them time to pull their dog close to them.
Sometimes you may come across a walker or runner with headphones on. Do your best to let them know you are there with your bell and voice. In some cases they will not hear you and it is best to go by them slowly.
Dogs: Sometimes you may run across a dog that is on the loose. If the dog starts to chase you, try not to panic. Tell it to go home. Keep riding and gradually pick up speed if it is safe to do that. Eventually the dog will reach it’s territorial limit and stop to return home.
If you have a water bottle handy and you have the coordination skills you can try spraying the dog with water. It’s pretty effective and a harmless way to confuse the dog.
Be prepared for rough roads
Potholes and Cracks in the Road: Watch out for these! In general these can be a big problem for bike wheels. If you ride in an area that has a lot of these then I would recommend using wider tires for your bike because they can roll over potholes and cracks better than skinnier tires.
Always try to avoid getting your tire stuck in a crack (parallel too) because it is very hard to get out of it without crashing!
Gravel on the Roads: This can be an unpleasant surprise when you are cornering or when you need to hit the brakes. Loose gravel or dirt on the roads should be treated with caution and I recommend lightly using your brakes in these conditions. In some situations a crash may be inevitable.
Keeping your head up and scanning the road ahead will help you see any gravel or loose dirt in the road and prevent crashes.
Snow and Ice: This can be fun on an e-bike! I am being some what sarcastic because snow and ice can be pretty dangerous but I recently set up a bike with studded snow tires and had a lot of fun. In fact the bike that I put the studded snow tires on had a front hub motor setup which made it “all wheel drive” and helped me power through snow banks that I would normally not make it through on my non-electric bike.
In all seriousness I would not recommend riding your e-bike on snow and ice unless you have excellent bike handling skills and you are not afraid to crash. If you feel you have those skills and you want to risk it, then I highly recommend that you get studded snow tires. Here is my review of the studded snow tires that I used.
Wet Conditions: When the streets are wet it’s best to take the slow ride. If you hit the brakes hard you could slide out and cornering hard could result in the same less than than favorable result of landing on the pavement. In addition your brake pads may be wet which will result in weak brakes, taking longer to stop. So the moral of the story is take it easy 🙂
Enjoy the ride!
Hopefully these tips on safety gear, finding safe biking routes, watching out for others, and riding on rough roads has been helpful.
If you think of other e-bike riding safety tips, please share them in the comment section below.