Cycling in and around Austin is one of the greatest joys that comes with living in the city. Cruising by the Texas State Capitol or taking in the views while riding around Lake Travis is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, especially during the cooler autumn months. And, while Austin does have a strong cycling community, people driving cars do not necessarily take the care they should when they share the road with cyclists.

Whether you are a beginner cyclist or have years of experience, it is vital to not only know the techniques to stay comfortable on your bike but ways you can increase your safety while on the road. Here are a few tips to help you have a safe cycling experience the next time you go for a ride.

Wear your helmet

When you watched the Tour de France last season, did you see any other cyclists riding without a helmet? Probably not. Professional cyclists do not only wear helmets because it is a requirement for many races, they also wear them while training or just taking a joy ride. Not matter how long or short your ride is, you should always wear a helmet to protect your head in case of an accident. What may seem like a minor head injury can result in death if not properly tended.

Don’t use headphones

While it may seem like a perfectly reasonable thing to do, riding with headphones can be extremely dangerous. While out for a ride, you need to be able to hear vehicles approaching from behind or from the side. Headphones can keep you from hearing an emergency vehicle approaching or other situations that are inherently dangerous. If you need to ride with music, try using a clip-on speaker that you can attach to your bike or jersey.

Follow the rules

As a person operating a vehicle on the road, it is your duty to know and follow traffic laws. You should always be riding with the traffic and not against it. While you have as much right to be on the road as the cars and trucks do, you also need to pay close attention to what these vehicles are doing so that you can make the necessary evasive maneuvers to avoid an accident when one of these drivers doesn’t see you.

Look up

Always keep your head up so that you can watch for any obstacles that are in front of you. For instance, something as innocent as a storm drain or a pot hole can wreak havoc if you hit it the wrong way and blow a tire. You also need to keep a watch for what the cars ahead are doing as well as other cyclists or pedestrians.

The above tips can go a long way to keep you safe while you are out for a ride. Unfortunately, no matter how safe you are on the road, you cannot control what other people do and it may not always be possible to avoid a bike accident with an automobile. If this happens, you might be able to file a claim for your injuries and the damage to your bike.