To decrease the risk of cycling accidents, be prepared before heading out, follow the rules of the road, stay focused and alert, and ride defensively. Following bicycle safety tips will not prevent all cycling accidents, but it can help you and your loved ones avoid serious injuries.
How to Prepare for Your Bike Ride
Before riding a bicycle, make sure it is in good working order and adjust it to fit. Check the brakes and tires, make certain all parts are secure and working properly, and adjust the seat to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended. The handlebars should be at the same height as the seat, and there should be 1-4 inches between you and the top bar of your bike (depending on the kind of bike you are riding).
Once you have chosen the right bike, plan your route and dress for the occasion. Ride in bike lanes and on bike trails and paths whenever possible, and if you must ride as a vehicle on the road, choose routes with less traffic and slower speeds. Avoid riding at night, as most fatal bicycle accidents occur between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Always wear a helmet and make sure it fits you properly. If you are riding during the day, wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright clothing, and if you must ride at night, wear reflective clothing and use flashing lights. Wear sneakers when you ride (no sandals, flip-flops, heels, or cleats), and make sure your shoelaces and pantlegs are tied away and won’t get caught in your bike chain. Accessorize with a backpack to carry your items and keep your hands free.
What Are the Rules of the Road for Bicyclists?
Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as all other drivers on the road. When cycling, ride with the flow, in the same direction as traffic. Remember that you must stop at all stop signs and obey traffic lights just as cars do. You should also use hand signals to indicate when you are turning, stopping, and slowing down. Otherwise, keep both hands on the handlebars and your eyes, ears, and mind on the road.
Staying Focused and Alert
Do not ride your bicycle under the influence of drugs or alcohol and avoid distractions like texting and listening to music. Drunk and distracted driving is dangerous and illegal – even for cyclists.
How to Drive Defensively as a Cyclist
For all drivers (and cyclists), defensive driving means expecting the unexpected. Watch the traffic around you at all times and anticipate what other drivers may do.
When cycling, always assume the other driver does not see you and look ahead for bicycle-specific hazards like potholes, grates, loose gravel, and debris. Be careful when riding next to parked cars, as a driver could open their car door into your path (this is called “dooring”).
You should also be extra careful in intersections, driveways, alleys, and curbs. Before entering traffic, stop and look left, right, left again, and over your shoulder.
Ride predictably and minimize riding on sidewalks or other places where cars don’t expect traffic. Yield when appropriate and know that any accident will be much worse for you than it will be for a motor vehicle driver.
What If I Cannot Avoid an Accident?
Even if you follow every safety tip on the internet, you won’t be able to avoid every accident that comes your way. A drunk driver could swerve into you, or a distracted driver could fail to see you.
When the worst happens, you need to know who to call. Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. can help you move forward after a serious cycling accident by helping you recover the compensation you need for medical bills, missed wages, and other losses.
We have been helping people through situations like yours since 1997, but we understand that every case is different.
Tell us about your accident during a free consultation – call us at (603) 288-1403 or contact us online for personalized service and attorneys that will fight for you.