Bill Allred’s Tips For Safe Bike Riding

I ride a bicycle a lot; to work sometimes, sometimes simply for recreation and exercise. I ride a road bike on the public thoroughfares of the Salt Lake Valley and I swear sometimes it feels like those cars are intentionally trying to kill you. They’re not, of course but it makes me, the bike rider, understand how important it is to be seen when I’m on my bike, out on the streets that were meant primarily for cars. I may have the right-of-way but if someone behind the wheel of a 2 ton vehicle doesn’t see me, right-of-way means nothing.

According to statistics from 43 percent of drivers in auto-bicycle crashes failed to yield the right-of-way to the bike. But I’ll bet the cyclist loses 100 percent of the time. That’s why it’s so important to take the proper precautions and make sure you and your bike are visible both day and night. That’s why it makes me so angry when I’m behind the wheel of my car and I nearly hit a cyclist because he or she is not doing everything possible to be seen.

Like, I’m on my way to work, in the pre-dawn darkness, and I almost wiped out a guy on a bike who ran a red light, cut in front of me, and who had absolutely no lights or reflective material on his bike or on his person at all. NOTHING. He might have ended up dead or severely injured and I wanted to chase him down and yell at him about not being visible. I’m sure he would have taken it well; in the spirit with which it was intended.

Anyway…with all that in mind…here are Bill Allred’s 5 tips for not getting killed on your bike. We all know the obvious ones, which will be included at the end of this piece from Please read them carefully and DO ALL OF THEM. The following are my special bike riding safety tips.

  1. Pretend that every car on the road is driven by a homicidal maniac who is on a mission to find you and kill you.
  2. Don’t hog the road; stay over to the side and out of the way as much as possible. Even if the signs tell cars they should SHARE THE ROAD they’re not that great at it sometimes. Stay out of the way.
  3. Find the safest routes to where want to go and use them. Salt Lake City has a great system of bike lanes. Use them to get to your destination even if they take you a little bit out of your way.
  4. If you talk on the phone while you are riding your bike you are an idiot.
  5. Never give any motorist the finger. They might have come too close to you, or honked at you when it wasn’t necessary or yelled an insult at you as they sped by you and your bike. But if you flip them off as they go by, there is a chance they will come back and the result of that will not be pretty.

So, that’s about it. Follow the safety rules below; take my 5 rules into consideration and get out there and ride.

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Bicyclists and motorists are both road users, therefore, they both have certain rights and responsibilities. Bicyclists are considered a vehicle when on the road. Bicyclists are subject to all the rights and rules of any vehicle on the road. When bicyclists and drivers work together, we can reach Zero Fatalities on our roadways

Tips for Bicyclists Tips for Drivers
  • Be seen (wear bright, reflective clothing. Use lights- bicyclists should assume they aren’t visible to motorists, and take every precaution).
  • Always wear a helmet- your helmet should sit level on your head & the straps should be snug.
  • Be Alert (don’t wear headphones, make eye contact with motorists when turning, ride predictably in a straight line)
  • Obey the laws. A bicyclist is considered a vehicle with the same rights as a motorist & is subject to the same provisions as any other vehicle.
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic; ride single file when impeding traffic.
  • Always signal intention to turn, change lanes or stop- acceptable hand signals are (Left turn- left hand & arm extended horizontally. Right turn- left hand & arm extended upward or right hand & arm extended horizontally. Stop or slow speed- left hand & arm extended downward)
  • Be respectful of other road users. Courtesy is contagious.
  • Bicycles are considered a vehicle when on the road so treat them as such.
  • Utah law requires drivers to allow bicyclists three feet when passing them.
  • Take caution of oncoming traffic when giving cyclists room as you pass them.
  • Bicyclists have a right to a lane.
  • Motorists need to help protect bicyclists, even by yielding right of way. In the event of a crash, no matter who is right and who is wrong, the bicyclists always loses.


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