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Chris Kozlowski, PT rides a mountain bike in the Lake Tahoe region.

Biking: How to Avoid A Fall

Mountain biking and road cycling aren't "just riding a bike."  It takes skill and coordination. You have to know how to turn, brake, and steer at speed. So how can you avoid a fall? Follow these tips for safe cycling:

Know who goes first. A horseback rider, a mountain biker, and hiker come to the same point on the trail. Who has the right of way? Horseback riders have the least control, so they have priority over bikers and hikers. Hikers have right of way over bikers, though if a hiker has room, it doesn’t hurt to make space for the biker.  

Be mindful. A little etiquette goes a long way. Give ample time to let other trail or road users know you're behind or passing them. Before entering intersections, look both ways and be wary of distracted drivers and trail users. Consider adding a bell to your bike to alert others of your presence and reduce potential collisions.

Follow the rules of the road. Similar to cars, cyclists should ride on the right side of the road and come to a complete stop at stoplights and stop signs. You can get a traffic ticket if you violate the law.

Protect your head and spine with a helmet. Note that California and Nevada law requires all children under 18 to wear one, but adults should too.

Wear other protective gear. If you're a casual rider, you're less likely to need the extra padding. But if you are aggressive or prefer challenging rides, consider elbow, knee, and shin pads.

Watch your surroundings.  Attach a mirror to your helmet or handlebars to see what's behind you. Use front and rear lights at night, and wear reflective clothing.

Share your ride itinerary. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Carry a bike tire repair kit and basic first aid kit. Make sure you know how to use them!
While these tips may not be foolproof, they can give you a safer and more enjoyable day out on the trail or the road.

Chris Kozlowski, PT received her USA Cycling Level III cycling coach certification in 2011.

Barton's Bike Fit program can help increase pedaling efficiency and power, improve handling performance, decrease overuse injuries, decrease saddle soreness, and reduce/eliminate back, neck and knee pain.