SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – As we get into warmer spring weather, more people will be riding bicycles.   

For some, that can be dangerous. In 2019, the most recent full-year data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, South Carolina had the third highest bicycle accident fatality rate per 100,000 residents in the nation. That’s more than double the rate of North Carolina or Georgia. 

From trails to residential streets to city streets, there are steps bicyclists and car drivers should take to keep everyone safe.

Following all traffic laws is a start. Next, making sure your bike won’t fail you. 

Karl Johnson, president of the Freewheelers of Spartanburg bicycling club, walked us through what you should check before you ride.

  1. Tires

    “One thing we want to do is make sure your tires are inflated. The proper pressure is [indicated] on the tires, how much PSI to put in there,” he explained. “You also want to check your tires to make sure they’re not worn out.” 
  2. Chain

    “Make sure it shifts OK. You want to look at your chain. If you see any rust on it you might want to oil it a little bit, keep those things oiled,” Johnson said. 
  3. Brakes

    “Make sure the brakes work well. If they squeak, that might be there’s a little bit of dirt on the rims so you might want to clean that off,” he said. “Make sure your brake pads aren’t worn too much, and just make sure they squeeze and they stop.” 

Take a brief ride around your neighborhood and make sure everything is good before you go on any longer ride. Local bike shops offer tune-ups to make sure your ride is safe. 

Whether you’re on a neighborhood street or on the growing number of bike trails, safety is paramount. A helmet is a must, and you want to make sure others can see you. Reflective clothing for you, and daytime blinkers for your bike, can grab motorists’ attention. 

Johnson said visibility is crucial.

“We want the car driver to realize that we’re out there too. We can be on the road also. Just, have them be patient. Especially if there’s a single rider there to be careful, give them enough room to pass,” Johnson said. “Same thing with large groups, we try and ride two abreast together, that makes our footprint much smaller so that when you have an area that’s safe to pass you can do it much quicker.” 

Yes, that is legal under state laws in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. It also makes riders more visible. 

Sticking to lesser traveled roads and multi-purpose trails is safer for families, but not without some dangers. Always stay alert. 

Johnson also said to keep an eye on the younger ones.

“Have the kids stay together. Don’t let them go sprinting off in the road because the kids aren’t always going to be aware,” he said. 

The Palmetto Cycling Coalition, BikeWalk NC, and Georgia Bikes are some advocacy groups with more information on bike laws and safety.

You can also reach out to local cycling clubs such as Freewheelers of Spartanburg, the Greenville Spinners, and the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club.