A growing number of people are ditching their vehicle for commuting purposes and instead relying on their bicycle. The benefits of doing so run deep, ranging from time savings to more exercise to ecological sustainability.

However, before you decide to commute on your bicycle, you must better understand the steps you can take to maintain your safety. Here are five things you can do to lessen the risk of an accident:

  • Stay alert: Just the same as operating a motor vehicle, you must be alert at all times. Keep your head on a swivel, make eye contact with drivers and make note of any potential dangers that lie ahead.
  • Beware of dooring accidents: It’s not just moving vehicles that can cause an accident. Parked cars are just as dangerous, as someone could open their door when you least expect it. If you’re unable to alter your lane of travel, you could strike the door head on at a high rate of speed.
  • Use the bicycle lane: You won’t always have access to a bicycle lane, but when you do there is no safer place to ride. Since you don’t (or shouldn’t) have to worry about vehicles here, it’s easier to maintain your safety.
  • Take special caution at intersections: Many bicycle-car accidents occur at intersections, such as if someone traveling from your right or left neglects to stop at a red light. Make it a habit to slow down and look both ways before traveling through or making a turn at an intersection.
  • Wear a helmet: It doesn’t matter how far you’re commuting or how much experience you have, you should never jump on your bicycle until you first strap on your helmet. You need to protect your head in the event of an accident, as it’s at risk of serious injury.

When commuting on your bicycle, these tips can keep you safe while giving you peace of mind.

Should you have a run-in with a vehicle, such as someone who caused an accident at an intersection, stay where you are and tend to your injuries as you wait for an ambulance to arrive.

You have legal rights as a bicyclist, so be sure to protect them after you receive treatment for your injuries.