New Year’s Resolution to bike to work? Don’t skip this safety checklist.

Staying healthy also means staying safe. Take a few simple steps before hitting the road.

Congrats on your decision! If you keep things simple and kind to yourself, this is going to be really rewarding. We’ve put together a little checklist for you to have a safe ride as you start getting into the habit of biking to work. Take three minutes to read it now — and thirty seconds every morning to run through the steps before hitting the road.

Before your ride

Have an easy bike — Starting a new healthy habit takes plenty of discipline, so set yourself up for success. Pick a bike that will be comfortable, easy to pedal with, and can comfortable carry you (and your stuff).

Strap on your helmet — Let’s face it: falling and accidents are a significant risk for cyclists. Put your helmet on. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Let someone know you’re en route — A lot can happen on the way to work — not to mention worried friends and relatives as you transition to your new commute — so keep someone in the know when you’re commuting. Naturally, we’re fans of Patronus’s On My Way feature for this: you can let someone know you’re on your way and they can follow your real-time location on a map; when you arrive, they’ll be pinged automatically. Riders with an Apple Watch have the added bonus of not having to reach into a pocket. Of course, the classic before-and-after text will do in a pinch (just don’t forget to send the after).

Bring water — Hydration is key. At best, your performance will take a hit when you’re thirsty; at worst, you’re running some serious health risks. Invest in a good water bottle and use it.

Review your route — Since it will be harder to access your phone while you’re on your ride, go over the directions before you start. This is especially helpful because sometimes bike directions aren’t perfect in GPS apps.

Give yourself extra time — If you’re in a rush to get to work, you’ll probably be more reckless while riding. That’s a quick way to get injured.

While riding to work

Stay aware of your surroundings — Cars are much bigger than you and sometimes drivers aren’t very observant. Be especially careful of cars pulling out of parking spots and drivers who have just parked and are opening their doors.

Use your hand signals — Left hand out at 90 degrees from your body means left turn; left hand facing straight up means right turn. Here’s a handy video. And if you’re sharing a path with pedestrians, don’t forget to call out “on your left” or “on your right” when you’re about to pass. It’s not just safety; it’s also good manners.

Obey signs — You may see some other cyclists blow through stop signs and red lights. Don’t follow their example. It’s not only illegal; it’s also dangerous. For your own safety — and the safety of people sharing the road with you — always follow traffic rules.

After your ride

Let them know you made it — If someone asked you to let them know when you arrived, don’t forget to give them an after ping to let them know that you’ve reached work. If you used Patronus, it will automatically ping your followers to let them know that you got there safely.

Quick stretch — Your muscles will thank you, and a good stretch session can prevent soreness and injury.

Give yourself a pat on the back — You made it!

Be a prepared, smarter cyclist with Patronus. You can download the app on iPhone here and Android here.

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