Bicycling is an awesome way to commute, exercise, and enjoy the outdoors. Since bicycling is a popular summer pastime and fitness activity, we are sharing some tips and tricks to staying safe as you explore the world on two wheels.
Wear a helmet
Perhaps the most tried and true safety tip is to wear a helmet. Unfortunately, helmets are not always worn by cyclists and are not required to be worn in every state. Nonetheless, protecting your head is very important because it is one of the easiest ways to avoid injury in an accident.
Injuries to the brain, neck, and spine can have some of the most severe and traumatic impacts on a bicycle accident victim. Everyone, adult and child, should wear a helmet to protect their safety and encourage others to do the same.
Here are a few guidelines from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on how to properly wear a helmet:
- Always buy and wear the proper size helmet by trying them on in the store until the fitting is right.
- Position the helmet level on your head and low on your forehead.
- Adjust the side straps to form a “V” around your ears. Lock the slider if possible for less shifting.
- Use the buckles properly by centering them beneath the chin. Most chin straps can be easily lengthened or shortened.
- Notice if your helmet rocks back and forth on your head. Be sure to readjust if this is the case.
Wear reflective clothing and materials
You can prepare to be seen by drivers in all conditions by wearing reflective materials at all times. This will help drivers to notice you at night or during any kind of inclement weather.
- Wear bright colors or neon in order to be seen by drivers.
- Always wear reflective clothing at night and use a bike light to alert drivers.
- If possible, avoid riding at night.
Check your equipment regularly
Before you ride, always make sure your equipment is functioning properly. This includes making a plan for any small accidents that might happen, such as a bust tire, loose chain, or any other equipment malfunctions. You can do this by:
- Testing all parts to work properly
- Checking tires
- Adjusting the seat to the proper height and locking it in place
- Equipping your bike with proper reflectors, lights, and bells
Pay attention and limit distractions
Bicycle or auto, distracted drivers are dangerous to themselves and others. In fact, distracted driving is the leading cause of fatal auto accidents in the US, according to the CDC. Distracted cycling is just as risky if not more so as you are more vulnerable to serious injuries and death.
Keeping electronics in your bag or pocket is a great way to make sure you are not susceptible to distractions while cycling. If you plan to drink water on your ride, try to bring a bottle (or hydration backpack) that can be easily accessed and opened. Additionally, it is better to limit listening to music via earbuds or headphones as this can keep you from hearing very important sounds while cycling.
For example, you can miss important noises on the road such as a car that is approaching from behind, a person shouting at you, or the sirens of an emergency response vehicle.
Use bike hand signals
Hand signals are a vital way to communicate your riding intentions with others. Drivers and cyclists cannot anticipate what you will do if you do not tell them via hand signaling. Be sure to research which hand signals to use in which situations and make your next move clear and obvious to others on the road.
Keep off the sidewalks
In most places throughout the US, cycling on sidewalks is against the law. Yes, riding on the sidewalk might seem safer when the alternative is sharing the road with much larger vehicles, but there is a reason why it is against most local and regional codes. Sidewalks are intended for pedestrians. If a cyclist rides on the sidewalk, they are risking the safety of pedestrians and themselves, especially in crowded areas. Additionally, sidewalks can be more uneven which makes them more dangerous for cyclists.
Ride with traffic, not against it
In other words, do not ride against the direction or flow of traffic. When you go against traffic, you are much more likely to find yourself in an accident in which you are found liable.
Use bike lanes when available
If bike lanes are available, always use them. Dedicated bike lanes are safer than sharing the road with cars because cars cannot lawfully enter bike lanes. More and more bike lanes are becoming available across the country, empowering cyclists to ride safer and more frequently.
While cycling is an amazing way to commute, get some exercise, and site see, it can be very dangerous. If you have been in a bicycling accident and need help seeking compensation, call (678) 819-5200 for a free consultation with a trusted personal attorney at Lamar Law Office.