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Safe family bike ride


Bicycling as a family is our favorite activity. My husband and I have been on bikes together since we started dating and we happily added our son to our riding adventures when he was 9 months old.  

We've been on beach cruisers, tandem bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, and cargo bikes. We've ridden in the mountains and on the beach. We’ve biked in the sunshine, in the rain, and a few times in the snow (I don’t recommend). 

We absolutely love riding bikes as a family, especially here in the Lowcountry. With miles of bike paths in Beaufort County, it's a popular way to travel. It's important to always practice safety, even if it’s just a short ride.  

Here are a few tips on safety and etiquette that will make your ride safer and more enjoyable.  

 Wear a Helmet

My husband was in a bike accident in 2015. He hit a tree root, and went straight over his handlebars. He was covered in road rash (with scars to show) and was pretty bruised up.  

If he had not been wearing his helmet, he would have likely ended up with a concussion or even a traumatic brain injury.  

Wearing a helmet may seem basic but it can save your life. Children are even more susceptible to brain injuries because their necks and torsos aren’t as strong as adults.  

This means that less force is needed to cause a concussion or brain injury. Children should wear a helmet if they are riding their own bike, riding in a bike trailer, or riding in a bike seat.  

 Use Bike Paths and Go With the Flow of Traffic

When bike paths are available, these are the safest places to ride. If there are no bike paths available and you must ride in the street, stay to the right and always go with the flow of traffic.  

Never ride against traffic. 

Use your hands to signal if you’re turning to let other bikes or vehicles know. Always stay to the right to allow faster bikes or cars pass your left.  

If you are passing another bike, ring your bell and say, “Passing on your left” to let them know you’re passing.  

Stay Visible, Predictable and Aware

Since Hilton Head Island is a tourist destination, we have many visitors who aren’t used to sharing the road with bicyclists. When riding you need to take extra precautions to stay visible, predictable, and aware: 

  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Wear bright clothing.
  • Use lights and reflectors if riding after dark.
  • Ride in groups.
  • Use a safety flag that's 3.5-7 feet high when pulling a bike trailer.
  • Avoid using headphones or cell phones while riding.
  • Watch for turning vehicles from both directions.
  • Avoid sudden turns and stops.

Safety during the coronavirus

Luckily, biking is easy to do while practicing social distance. The World Health Organization doesn’t recommend the use of masks while exercising because masks may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably. However, make sure to bring your mask along for any stops along the way!

The Benefits of Two Wheels

Aside from it being a ton of fun, bike riding has so many benefits. When you choose to ride a bike instead of driving a car you are burning more calories, working your cardiovascular system, helping reduce emissions, and growing your appreciation for the outdoors.  

Jump on a bike this summer and enjoy the ride.  

We will see you out there.

Susannah Winters is a mother of two, health coach, avid cyclist, and resident of Hilton Head Island.