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4 critical safety tips for new cyclists

You've decided you want to start biking to work. It sounds like a great way to save money, get in shape and protect the environment.

The only problem is that you're worried about being involved in an accident. You know how dangerous that is for a cyclist. Below are four tips that can help reduce your risk on the road.

1. Ride the same direction as the cars.

Riding on the right side of the road allows you to move smoothly with traffic. You also make turns and other maneuvers that drivers expect. It feels natural and complies with the law.

2. Always use a helmet.

Helmets may not prevent a crash, but they can lower the risk of serious head injuries if you are involved in an accident. Head injuries are a leading cause of death to cyclists. Never leave home without a helmet.

3. Make sure drivers can see you.

If you ride at night, use lights. Put reflectors on your bike. Wear clothes and gear containing bright colors, like yellow and red. You may even want to consider reflective vests. A lot of accidents happen because drivers just don't see cyclists.

4. Use your hands.

If you're turning, there's a hand signal for it. Signals vary, depending which way you intend to go. Signal every single time you're turning on a bike. If you don't know all of the hand signals, consider a bike safety course before you start riding to work every day.

Even doing everything right can't prevent all accidents due to driver error or negligence. If you are still involved in a crash, your injuries could be serious. You may also be looking at costs for lost wages and medical expenses. Be sure you know all of the legal rights that you have.

Source: Orange County Transportation Authority, "Adult Bike Safety," accessed Sep. 21, 2017

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