As summer approaches, many turn to bicycles as a way to get out of the house and exercise. Whether you are an avid cyclist or dusting off your bicycle to get some much-needed fresh air, taking a few precautions could help you stay safe on the road.

Make sure your bicycle is in good working order.

Before you get on the road, check your bicycle’s mechanical systems. If your tires are worn, replace them and keep them inflated according to manufacturer guidelines. Check your brake system to ensure that you can stop effectively. If you do not have the appropriate reflectors, install them. When your bicycle is in proper working order, you can control it more effectively and react to hazards.

When riding on the road, remember to follow traffic guidelines.

Cycling safely on the road is a matter of following familiar traffic guidelines in most cases. As a vehicle, you should ride with traffic and obey signage. You should also signal turns so that drivers can anticipate your next move.

Be careful when riding on sidewalks.

While you can bicycle on the sidewalk in Pennsylvania in many situations, it is important to remember that sidewalk riding comes with its own risks. Remember that cities build sidewalks with pedestrians in mind, so you may need to maintain a slow speed so that you can handle sharp corners, uneven surfaces and other hazards. Take care when crossing streets or driveways because visibility is limited by buildings and drivers may not be looking for the approach of a bicycle.

Most important, wear a helmet.

While only bicyclists under the age of 12 are required to wear a helmet, this simple piece of safety equipment is one of the best ways to prevent catastrophic injuries for cyclists of all ages. The National Safety Council states that most bicycle crash fatalities involve riders without a helmet, and helmet use can significantly reduce your risk of head trauma.

While these precautions will not prevent all accidents, they can help you reduce your risk and enjoy Pennsylvania’s roads, sidewalks and bike paths with greater confidence in your safety.