In bicycle vs auto accidents, cyclists are much more likely to sustain serious injuries. As such, bicyclists should always keep safety in mind – even though safety on the roads is a shared responsibility.
Bicycle safety begins before you take your bicycle on the road. First, you need to choose the right bicycle, make sure it is working properly, and adjust it to fit.
Next, you need to plan your route to avoid heavy traffic and dangerous times of day. Finally, put on a helmet.
When it’s time to ride, stay focused and alert and follow all the rules of the road. Remember that you have the same rights and responsibilities as other motorists and ride defensively.
Choosing the Right Bike
The right bicycle for you will depend on where and how you plan to ride. You may want a beach cruiser, a mountain bike, or a road bike. A beginner bike will have good stability, relaxed positioning, and wider tires.
No matter what type of bike you choose, you need to make sure it fits you. When standing over your bicycle, there should be 1 to 2 inches between you and the top bar for road bikes and 3 to 4 inches between you and the top tube for mountain bikes. Adjust your seat so you have a slight bend in your knee when your leg is fully extended. Your handlebars should be at the same level as your seat, and your seat should be level front to back.
You should also make sure your bicycle works properly. Check to make sure that your tires are inflated correctly, all parts are secure and in good working order, and your brakes work. It is illegal to ride a bicycle without functioning brakes.
You should also ensure your bicycle is equipped with reflectors on the front, rear, pedals, and spokes. If you plan to ride at night, you should also have a bright headlight and a flashing red taillight.
For added safety, you can also add a rear-view mirror and a horn or bell.
Planning Your Trip
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most bicyclists are killed between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., and most fatal bicycle crashes occur in urban areas. Avoid riding during rush hour and at night whenever possible.
You can also plan routes that avoid heavy traffic, roads with high speed limits, and roads without bike lanes. Always use bike lanes and bike trails when they are available. If you are driving as a vehicle on the road, choose familiar routes with less traffic and slower speeds.
Wearing a Helmet
Every safe bike ride begins with putting on a helmet. You should also make sure that your helmet fits you correctly. Your helmet should sit level on your head and low on your forehead. The NHTSA has a helpful guide for fitting your bike helmet.
Make sure the helmet you purchase meets the standards issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). You should be able to find a certification label inside the helmet.
Beyond the Helmet
Dressing for a safe bike ride goes beyond your helmet. If you’re riding during the day, wear bright clothing, and if you’re riding at night, wear reflective gear. Avoid sandals and heeled shoes, and tuck and tie your shoelaces and pant legs so they don’t get caught in your bike chain.
Always carry items in your backpack, in a basket, or strapped to the back of your bicycle. Carrying a bag in your lap or draping it over your handlebars can cause you to lose control of your bicycle.
A bicycle is a vehicle and operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is dangerous and against the law. Always ride sober and stay focused. Avoid texting, listening to music, or anything that distracts you from riding your bike.
Ride predictably and follow the rules of the road. Stop and signal when appropriate and use caution when riding on sidewalks, as other drivers will not expect you to be there (and sidewalk riding is illegal in some places).
Other defensive cycling tips include:
- Ride with the flow, in the same direction as traffic
- Obey all street signs, signals, and road markings
- Use hand signals (especially at intersections) to indicate turning, stopping, and slowing down
- Look ahead for hazards or situations that might cause a fall
- Use caution while entering traffic
- Keep your eyes, ears, and mind on the road and traffic at all times
- Never pass on the left
- Always assume other drivers do not see you
Be extra careful at intersections and look out for parked cars opening their doors into your path and other bicycle-specific hazards.
Safety Is Everyone’s Responsibility
The bicycle safety tips included in this blog might help you avoid an accident, but safety is everyone’s responsibility. If a drunk, distracted, or careless driver hits you while you are on your bicycle, you may be entitled to compensation.
Our attorneys at Palmisano & Goodman, P.A. have over 100+ combined years of experience helping clients through situations just like this, and we can help you, too.
We provide all clients with honest advice, energetic representation, and personal attention – and there are no fees unless we win.
If you have been involved in a bicycle vs. auto accident, do not hesitate to call us at (732) 709-4400 or contact us online for a free consultation.