This week's issue of New York Magazine includes 'The Everything Guide To... THE BIKE COMMUTE'. Pretty thrilling to see a four page spread dedicated to the topic - even if shows a helmet-less cyclist (when they listing wearing a helmet as 'obvious') and no mention of baskets and panniers?! That said, it does includes a nice comprehensive list of basic safety tips (listed below) -- a good read next to Transportation Alternatives' Biking Rules guide, particularly for newbies.
First, the obvious.
Helmet? Yes, always. Lose the iPod and the Bluetooth. Wear bright clothing. Signal your turns. Ding your bell.
How not to get doored.
Most car doors can swing open four feet, so consider 48 inches the safe distance. Since most city bike lanes are only 36 inches wide, ride on the outside of the lane, or take up a lane of traffic, which is your legal right.
Stay out of blind spots.
Cabbies will cut right in front of you to grab a fare. Also, watch for signs that a taxi door is about to swing open: The fare light flashes on, passengers are moving around, a back door’s ajar.
You’re not a pedestrian.
In other words: no sidewalks; don’t go the wrong way up one-way streets; and always yield to walkers.
Use blinking lights at night.
White in front, red in rear. Don’t wait till it’s pitch-dark to flip them on; dusk is just as dangerous.
Don’t blow through stoplights.
If you must, at least treat red lights like stop signs. Yes, it’s illegal, but it’s also against the law to jaywalk, and you already do that.
At a red light, coast to the head of the intersection.
The more visible you are, the safer you’ll be.
Take extra care around the bridges.
According to crashstat.org, some of the most dangerous streets for cyclists are near the Williamsburg Bridge, the Queensboro Bridge, and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel.
Test-drive your route on a Sunday morning.
You’ll get the lay of the land without the pressure of traffic. Try to ride the same route every day, so you are familiar with trouble spots.
Stopped buses hide pedestrians.
Give buses a wide berth and keep your hands on the brakes as you pass.
When it rains.
Don’t turn on metal grates, plates, or manhole covers. They’re unavoidable, so you shouldn’t brake or swerve when you’re approaching them: Ride straight over, and turn when both wheels are back on asphalt.
via New York Magazine's October 12, 2009 Issue