Important Reminders for Hilton Head Cyclists

Biking is a popular and enjoyable way to get around Hilton Head and it can provide a great fitness workout. Just be sure that when you go cycling you put safety first, and that you know the do’s and don’ts of getting around the island on two wheels.

Here are a few reminders related to safety when you go for a bike ride on Hilton Head.

It’s the law to go with the flow.

Remember that South Carolina law requires that bicyclists ride on the right-hand side of the road in the same direction as traffic. This makes it easier for motorists to see you, and lets you see traffic signs and signals. Ride in the right-most lane (unless making a left turn), and as far to the right as is practicable.

Traffic laws apply to bicyclists too.

When you’re pedaling around Hilton Head, you’re subject to the rules of the road just like motorists. So, don’t neglect to obey lights and signs. And if you’re a little rusty at using hand signals, take time to brush up as you’re required to use them to alert others to your intention to turn, slow, stop or change lanes.

You need to be extra visible at night.

If you’re biking at night, don’t assume that drivers can see you. Wear light-colored and/or reflective apparel. And it’s the law that your bicycle has a white-light-emitting headlight that’s visible from at least 500 feet and a red reflector on the rear that can be seen from 50 or more feet away. Also, here’s a suggestion: For added safety, attach a flashing red light to the rear of your bike.

The more predictably you ride, the safer you are.

If you swerve toward the curb between parked cars or weave in and out of traffic, you disappear and reappear and make it harder for others to safely go around you, and to anticipate what you are likely to do. Riding in a straight line helps you remain in the motorist’s field of vision, makes your actions more predictable and makes you more visible to drivers opening their car door after parking.

 Sometimes you have the right-of-way, sometimes you don’t.

It’s to your safety advantage to be extra cautious when it comes to the right-of-way at intersections. If you are in the crosswalk and/or the signal is in your favor, motorists are supposed to yield, but cars have the right-of-way if you’re waiting to cross. To be on the safe side, yield when in doubt and make eye contact with drivers to make sure they see you before you negotiate the intersection.

It’s “safety smart” to always wear a helmet.

No, there’s not a South Carolina law that requires bicycle riders to wear a helmet, but from a safety perspective, there’s no good reason not to. Studies show that wearing a helmet is a cyclist’s best defense against severe head injuries (reduces risk by as much as 85 percent), and it can save your life.

Safety starts before you set out on your bike.

A well-maintained bicycle is a safer one, so give your bike a once-over each time you ride. Things to look for: Check the tire pressure and look for damage and tread wear. Check the brakes and the chain, and make sure the latter is clean and lubricated. Confirm that nuts and bolts are secure and take a slow ride in a traffic-free area to see if anything else needs attention before you pedal off into the distance.

Hilton Head remains one of the top 25 bicycle-friendly communities in the United States and it’s the only southeast community awarded Gold Level by the League of American Bicyclists. This ongoing commitment to improving conditions for bicycling is another notch in the island’s belt with respect to quality of life amenities, something that Hilton Head has no shortage of and something that all of us at ERA Evergreen never tire of bragging on. Be safe and pedal on!