One of the benefits to riding bicycles is that you get to combine a healthy activity that is also fun to do; however there are many things modern bike riders do that make riding a bike unhealthy. Here are 9 things that some bike riders are doing that can make riding a bike unhealthy and even deadly.  Some of these things are done to be seen as cool as others are done out of ignorance. If you are going to ride a bike then you should be as safe as you can when doing it. Cycling is a very healthy activity, until you get smacked by a car for not paying attention. Extend your lifespan by riding safely. 

1. Lowered Seat Stem

Low RideCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31246066@N04/4428667478/

Many kids and young adults ride with the seat as low as possible. These young men do this because it is considered the “cool way” to ride their bike. Unfortunately they are adding extreme stress to their muscles and ligaments, especially in their knees. It is much more common for a ligament tear in the knee to occur when the seat on a bicycle is not positioned at the proper height. Even if the young man gets away without injury the additional stress on his knees may come back to haunt him when he is older. You might think that you look cool with the seat low but it is stupid because you are needlessly putting the joints of your body at risk of damage.

2. No Helmet

Wearing a bicycle helmet when you ride your bicycle should be automatic. As soon as you get in your car you put on a seat belt (or at least you should be) so you should treat bike helmets the same way and automatically put one on. You may be saying to yourself “but I am riding around the block, not the Tour De France”! That may be so but bicycle injuries can happen anywhere and at any speed. Protect your noggin and put on a bicycle helmet when you ride and teach your kids to do the same.

You also need to ensure that the helmet fits properly, is being worn properly, and is not damaged. Anytime you are in an accident where the helmet received impact you need to trash the helmet and buy a new one.

 3. Wrong Shoes

Pump CyclingCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chainsawpanda/284327514/

The woman in this picture is wearing high heels while she rides her cycle. Obviously wearing high heels while cycling is not very common, but wearing the wrong shoes is. Most avid road cyclists will sport a high end pair of shoes designed specifically for road cycling; however if you are a casual cyclist who rides around town for recreation then you probably do not need to be “clipped into your pedals” with $300 cycling shoes.

You definitely do not need to be clipped on for casual strolls around the block with your family. Whatever you do decide to wear, make sure that high heels are not your cycling shoe of choice. For casual cyclist a good pair of skating shoes works great for cycling. A pair of low top DC, Vans, or DVS brand skate shoes tend to last a long time and work awesome for casual cyclists who do not want to be “clipped in” to their pedals. Skate shoes are great for casual riders or commuters and they are inexpensive compared to high end cyclign shoes.

4. Watch for Cars

Share RoadCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/heypaul/2027460/

Yes you may be riding in the bicycle lane; however if you are not paying attention you may still get run over and killed by an erratic driver who is not paying attention. You must always have situational awareness when you are riding a bicycle on public roads. Regardless of whether you are following the laws or not, if a car hits you it will hurt you or kill you. Always be aware of things around you including cars.

5. Wal-Mart Bikes

Riding in Mini SkirtCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/73416633@N00/1186470073/

Do not buy bicycles from Wal-Mart or any other mass department store. These bikes may seem like a good value for a good bike but they are all complete crap. Visit your local bike shop and test ride some bikes there. You will pay more but you will also get a quality bike with good components that are assembled properly and will last much longer.

6. Undersized Bikes

Undersized BikeCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/istolethetv/518801122/

You need to ride a bicycle with a frame that is the appropriate size for you. If a frame is too big or too small then it will not be as safe to ride. Buying a bicycle from your local bike shop helps to alleviate the problems associated with a bike frame that is the wrong size because the bike shop will help to fit you to a frame that works fluidly with your body by being sized properly.

7. Speed Focus

Speed(114218)Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stopdown/1955769943/

When people are riding bicycles at high rate of speed they will often focus on the handlebar area and the road directly in front of them; however to be safe you need to focus your attention farther out some you can see any potential problems such as a car backing out of a driveway ½ a block down the road.  

8. 2 People 1 Bike

Tandem BikeCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30208099@N00/1161070226/

There are many bikes available including tandem cycles that are specifically designed for 2 people to simultaneously ride the same bike. If you do not have a bike that is specifically designed for 2 people then you are risking injury to you and the rider as well as potentially damaging the bicycle.

9. Distractions

EatingCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gandalfcunningham/3663554923/

Whether you are texting or eating a burrito, it can be dangerous, unhealthy, and even lethal if you do it while riding your bicycle. What if you are texting on your phone and a car suddenly veers over and smashes into you and kills you. Is texting that important that you would leave your children alone on this earth because you were stupid enough to text on your phone and not have “situational awareness” while you were cycling?