Most times when you hear people talk about bike safety, you hear the standard pieces of advice: wear your helmet, don’t wear dark colors when riding at night, and follow the general traffic laws. What you don’t hear is how to avoid getting into a collision in the first place. Simply wearing a helmet won’t stop you from getting hit by a car if you’re not being vigilant in the other areas of bike safety as well.
For example, traffic laws tell cyclists to ride as far to the right as possible. If a cyclist rides too far to the right, someone exiting a parked car could open a door right in front of them, they’d be less visible to drivers pulling out of driveways and parking lots, and cars coming from behind may pass too closely in the same lane because they thought they had enough space. In each of those instances, the cyclist would be following the law, but also making it easier for themselves to get hit.
While this article may address cyclists, it’s in a driver’s best interest to also be aware to help them prevent getting themselves into an accident.
Here are some tips to help you be safe while you ride:
Ride with traffic: Riding against traffic may seem like a good idea so you can see the cars that are approaching or passing you, but it’s actually against the law. Cars pulling out of driveways, parking lots, and cross streets that are making a right turn onto your street aren’t expecting traffic to be coming at them from the wrong way. They may not see you which puts you at risk.
Get a headlight: Front headlights are life-savers. If you’re riding at night, having one is already required by law, but even during the day a bright flashing light can make you more visible to drivers who might otherwise not see you. In addition, headlamps are also a great tool as the light will shine directly at the driver when you turn to look at them.
Never stop in a blind spot: As you come to a stop next to a vehicle, never stop in the blind spot. Instead, opt to stop behind the car. This makes you more visible to traffic all around and makes it almost impossible for someone to avoid seeing you. Simply stop behind a car, instead of to the right of it, as per the diagram below.
Before turning right, look behind you: This helps you ensure that there isn’t a runner or fellow cyclist trying to pass you on the right (which is a big no-no anyway), but also makes sure you don’t hit any pedestrians crossing the street.
Get a rearview mirror: For a quick reference to the surroundings behind you, a rearview mirror saves you the effort of turning your head and possibly missing something happening in front of you.
Don’t hug the curb: While you may want to move over as much as you can to give yourself more space between you and the passing cars, save yourself some space between your bike and the curb. This gives you a buffer that you can easily move into if necessary.
Signal your turns: Just as you would signal when driving a car, let other occupants of the road know you’re about to turn or move left or right by signaling with your arm.
Resist the urge to wear headphones or use a cellphone: Distracted biking is just as dangerous as distracted driving. Be aware of your surroundings.
And there you have it! Simple, but life saving tips to keep you, and the other occupants of the road safe this summer! Remember, if you or a loved one has been injured by the negligence of a distracted driver or by someone at fault, please don’t hesitate to contact us to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.