More Americans are using bicycles to commute, exercise, or as a primary means of transportation. However, sharing the road with motorists comes with risks. A bicycle accident involving a larger, heavier vehicle can lead to serious injury and permanent disabilities. It can even be fatal for a cyclist. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 857 riders were killed in bike accidents in 2018. Hundreds of thousands more are hurt every year.
The statistics are alarming. But you can reduce the risk of an accident by being careful and following these bicycle safety tips:
1. Always Wear a Helmet and Safety Gear
According to the National Safety Council, 54% of bike-related deaths involve a cyclist not wearing a helmet. A study published in the journal Brain Injury, which tracked over 76,000 cycling injuries between 2002 and 2012, found 78% of adults and 88% of children who suffered head/neck injuries were not wearing helmets at the time of a crash.
To be effective, a helmet must be properly sized and adjusted. It should be about one or two finger widths above the eyebrow and not shift more than an inch side-to-side or front-to-back. Adjust the straps until they are snug. And, if wearing the helmet during a crash or fall, replace it; hidden damage can put you in danger the next time.
Also, consider wearing gear to protect other parts of your body, such as elbow pads and knee pads.
2. Keep Your Bike Working Properly
Regularly check your bike for potential safety issues. The most important areas to look at are the:
- Tires: Inflate the tires to the proper pressure. If you ride with under-inflated tires, you may get a flat or damage the wheels. A flat tire should be thoroughly examined for additional damage.
- Brakes: Squeeze each brake lever before riding and when in motion. Uneven braking, loose brakes, or vibration can signal a problem. If adjusting the cable doesn’t improve response, replace the brake pads.
- Chain: A dry chain can cause excessive wear, causing the chain to slip. If the chain squeaks when backpedaling, apply chain lubricant above it and backpedal a few times.
3. Be Visible
It is safer to ride during the day than at night. However, reflectors and bright-colored, neon, or fluorescent clothing can increase visibility. Installing a bike headlight can as well. These measures can make it easier for drivers to see you at an intersection, when making a left turn, turning right into your path, or opening their door. And, when making a turn, use the entire lane to remain visible to nearby motorists.
4. Obey Traffic Laws
Like any other vehicle, you must stop at a traffic light or stop sign. Be aware of the speed of traffic on the road and ride in the same direction as traffic. Exercise caution and use hand signals to alert drivers of your intent.
Always use a bike lane if it is available. Riding on the sidewalk increases the risk of injuring a pedestrian. Pedestrians should always have the right of way at a crosswalk or on any street. Also, be aware of specific bicycle laws in your local area.
5. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Riding responsibly requires paying attention. Be aware of road and traffic conditions, the movement of cars at intersections, and larger vehicles. Situational awareness also enables you to see potholes, grates, objects, and other hazards. Try to avoid high-traffic streets and ride in residential areas.
The door zone is another important consideration. Always ride on the left and stay a safe distance (about 4 feet) from parked cars to avoid a collision with an opening door. Also, avoid consuming alcohol before riding, as it can impair your judgement and response time.
What You Should Do If You Get in a Bicycle Accident
If you’re in a bicycle accident in the city or anywhere else, assess the situation, wait for the police to arrive (and get a police report), get information from the driver (like the license plate and insurance information), document what happened, get witness contact information, and seek medical attention. Contact a lawyer if injured. The better you follow these safety tips, the more likely you’ll get fair compensation for your claim.
Contact The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani
Our Los Angeles personal injury law firm can help if you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident. We can fight the insurance companies and get the compensation you deserve. Legal representation and consultation services are available, as our law firm is open during the coronavirus pandemic. To speak with a personal injury attorney and get a free case evaluation, call 888-952-2952 today.