Cycling is an excellent way to get around, stay fit, reduce your carbon footprint, and become connected with your community, but it can also be dangerous and cause injuries when in an accident with a car. While there are numerous benefits physically and mentally to biking, it can also be a dangerous activity.
Since cyclists often share the road with motor vehicles, their safety is not just their responsibility! Below we’ll share some key safety tips for drivers and cyclists alike, so everyone can enjoy the ride.
How Drivers Can Make Cyclists Safer on the Road
While a number of cities are investing in designated paths for bikes and pedestrians, oftentimes cyclists rely on roads to get around. Even when folks are traveling on a separate path, they are still at risk of an injury due to an auto accident.
According to the National Safety Council’s Injury Facts, bicycle incident related deaths have increased 6 percent in 2019 and 37 percent in the last 10 years. Of the 856 bicycle deaths in 2019, 712 involved motor vehicles.
As a driver, how can you help ensure the safety of cyclists? The most significant step you can take is simply shifting your perspective on biking. Recognizing the fact that cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers is the first step towards preventing accidents. Everyone on the road deserves respect, especially cyclists.
There are also more tangible actions you can make to prevent accidents. Make sure to yield to cyclists as you would other motorists, and don’t make the mistake of underestimating their speed. With the right conditions, bicycles are capable of going just as fast as motor vehicles!
Simply following the rules of the road can do a lot to protect cyclists.
By driving the speed limit and avoiding speeding, you make it easier for cyclists to see you coming and anticipate sharing the road with you. In addition to avoiding speeding, make sure you slow down when necessary if there are hazardous road conditions and practice defensive driving.
When riding bicycle, make sure to ride with the traffic. Drivers at intersections are looking for oncoming traffic (from the left) and not expecting a bicyclist coming from the right. Thus, ride with traffic so that other cars know to be on the lookout for you.
Another easy rule of the road to abide by are stop signs and lights! Make sure you always come to a complete stop before proceeding. When turning right on red, it’s important to look to your right and behind you for any cyclists or pedestrians. A simple glance can prevent a tragic accident!
Looking at your surroundings isn’t just important when turning right at a red light – it’s also crucial before you get out of your car when you’re stopped on the side of the road. The Dutch reach is a technique that involves using your far hand (the one on the interior of the car) to open the door, because it forces you to twist your body and look at oncoming vehicles or cyclists.
At the end of the day, one of the best things you can do for cyclists on the road is give them room. Try to maintain a distance of 3 feet away from anyone traveling by bike, because passing too closely can prompt an accident. If there isn’t enough room to share the lane with cyclists, simply treat them like you would another vehicle by waiting until it’s safe to move over into an adjacent lane. Slowing down and giving folks space is a small price to pay for another human being’s safety and wellbeing.
Safety Tips for Cyclists
If you decide to ride your bike as your primary mode of transportation or just for pleasure, you have a responsibility to ensure your safety. By following these bike safety tips, you not only protect yourself but you set an example for other cyclists too. Below are some ways you can stay safer on the road.
Before you go on your bike ride, take some time to prepare! Get to know your bike and how it’s supposed to fit and make sure that all of the components are in working order – after all, your brakes won’t help you much if they don’t work. Regular bike tune-ups are key to riding safely, whether you do them yourself or you take your bike to a repair shop.
Your bike isn’t the only thing that deserves your attention before you go on a ride! You’ll want to assess your own outfit before leaving too. As silly as it sounds, it’s important that your shoes are tied and your pants are well fitted, or at least rolled up or tucked into your sock. That way nothing is at risk of getting tangled in your gears or your pedals, causing you to stop or fall unexpectedly. You should also never leave your house without your bike helmet. Helmets save lives, and wearing one is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself as a cyclist. Get in the habit of never leaving home without one!
Visibility is key when sharing the road with other motor vehicles. Make sure you have bike lights (and a backup pair of lights in case they die!) as well as reflectors installed on your bike. It’s also worth it to invest in some high-visibility clothing, such as a vest.
Now that your bike is in order and you have everything you need for your ride, you can finally hit the road!
The safety shouldn’t stop there though, so always practice defensive riding. That means you stay alert (no headphones or texting) and ride with the flow of traffic. Motor vehicles aren’t expecting close traffic in the opposite direction on their right side, so you shouldn’t be there. It is also extremely dangerous to ride on sidewalks, as cars are not expecting high speeds from the pedestrian-focused area and will likely not see you coming.
Lastly, it’s important to get to know your community. If you plan on biking often then this will happen naturally, but there are also group events you can attend to assist with that process. By knowing your community you’ll understand which roads are more or less dangerous, where the well-developed bike lanes and designated paths are, and which areas of town are better lit with less traffic. It might occasionally add extra time to your route to seek out those spaces, but it’s worth it if it means your safety!
What should you do if you’re in a bicycle accident?
If you are unfortunately involved in a bike incident, either as a driver or a cyclist, you need to immediately contact a skilled attorney. At the Martin Hernandez Law Office, we have experience with bicycle accidents, auto accidents and injury cases that we’re ready to apply to your situation. You wouldn’t settle for less than the best when it comes to your safety, so don’t accept less than the best to represent you in the event of an accident!
Contact us today by calling (813) 755-9500 in order to set up your free consultation with an experienced law firm. Don’t forget to ride safe and enjoy biking in the sunshine state!