The real world's road rules
Choose smart routes. Spend a little time mapping out your routes. Some roads have less car or truck traffic than others. Always choose the roads with the lightest traffic, and stick to bike paths whenever possible.
Watch your back. Scanning in front and to the sides of you is easy when you're on a bike; knowing what's happening behind you is the problem. A product called the Third Eye is one of the best rearview mirrors for cycling. Choose from a model that attaches to your sunglasses or another that hooks onto your helmet.
Make eye contact. Assume that drivers don't see you until you're certain they do.
Ride with traffic. State laws and common sense require that, like other vehicles, cyclists travel on the right side of the road.
Obey traffic signs and signals. Cyclists must follow all traffic laws to ensure their safety on the road -- and to avoid getting ticketed by police.
Use hand signals. Use the following standard hand signals to tell motorists and pedestrians what you intend to do. Signal as a matter of law, courtesy and self-protection.
Follow lane markings. For example, don't turn left from the right lane and don't go straight in a lane marked "Right Turn Only." These faulty moves lead to more accidents than you might imagine.
Avoid road hazards. Watch out for sewer grates, gravel, large potholes, ice and debris. Ride over railroad tracks at right angles, otherwise you risk getting your tire stuck in a rut, which could lead to a dangerous crash.
Be ready to brake. Although you don't need to remain white knuckled on your brakes, you should always be ready to stop if need be. Allow extra distance for stopping in the rain, because wet brakes are less efficient.
Always wear a helmet. Some experienced cyclists don't wear helmets because they believe going without proclaims, "I'm so good, I don't need to wear a helmet." These people follow the examples set by some professional riders who forego helmets. I don't care how cool or fast you think you are, it's never cool to suffer brain damage from a bike crash. I've seen too many tragedies that could have been avoided with the simple click of a helmet buckle. Never ride your bike anywhere without wearing a helmet.
And if you do crash, send your helmet back to the manufacturer to have it checked out - even if it appears fine. I know a man whose helmet had an internal crack he couldn't see, and his helmet later split in half like a cracked egg. Had he been in a crash, the helmet would have offered zero protection. If, when you send the helmet back to the manufacturer, any damage is found, they'll likely replace the helmet for free or else charge you a nominal fee.
Keep your equipment in good working order. Equipment failures like flat tires or broken components can cause accidents and leave you at the side of the road in heavy traffic - or worse, stranded in the middle of nowhere. To avoid such mishaps, keep your gear in tip-top shape. Get your bicycle tuned up by a trained mechanic every six months, clean and oil your chain every eight to ten hours of cycling, and check your tire pressure before every ride. Always carry with you a basic tool kit that contains a spare tube, tire irons and a pump and learn basic bike maintenance, including how to change a flat tire.Have you got a cycling tips? Let us know: