Many people, adults and children, use bicycles for transportation and exercise. Oftentimes, those riding a bike are sharing the road with other vehicles, and it is important to keep in mind (and remind your children!) ways to stay safe out on the road. May is National Bicycle Safety Awareness Month, so it’s a perfect time to revisit safety tips to prevent unfortunate accidents while riding your bike.
WHAT ARE THE TOP 10 BICYCLE SAFETY TIPS?
In 2019, there were 846 fatalities and close to 50,000 injuries involving bicyclists. Of the bicycle fatalities, 96 percent involved a motor vehicle crash. Here are the top safety tips to keep in mind when riding a bike:
- Wear a helmet and ensure it fits properly – Head injuries are serious business, so wearing a bike helmet can be the difference between life and death. However, it is not enough to just wear a bike helmet. If the helmet doesn’t properly fit, then you might as well not be wearing one at all. Make sure that you always wear a helmet that fits you properly before riding your bicycle. It always best to try on a helmet before buying, especially for growing kids. Do not buy a helmet for your child to “grow into.” Ensure that the helmet is low on your forehead, the side straps form a “Y” to meet just below your ear, and that the chin strap is buckled.
- Be seen – Drivers cannot avoid hitting what they can’t see. When you are riding your bike, make sure you are wearing bright, reflective clothing that makes you easily visible to drivers of cars and trucks. In addition, if you ride at night make sure your bike has lights and other reflective accessories to ensure you can be seen.
- Ride WITH traffic – Always ride with traffic, not against it. It is easier to safely navigate traffic if you’re a part of it. This means riding on the right side of the road in the same direction as cars and trucks.
- Use hand signals and follow the rules of the road – Riding with traffic also means following the same rules as automobiles. Stop at red lights and stop signs like motor vehicles do. Obey all traffic signs and lane markings. When you ride your bike on the road, you are a driver and that is your vehicle.
- Keep your bike in good working order – A bad tire or twisted gears are a recipe for disaster. Always make sure that your bike and your cycling gear are in tip top shape before you go for a ride. If your bike or gear isn’t working correctly, it could cause you to have an accident.
- Keep your eyes looking forward and stay alert – Whether you’re riding on a trail, a quiet neighborhood street, or a busy urban roadway, always stay alert and watch where you’re headed. You are riding one of the most vulnerable vehicles on the road, safety must be your top priority. Like distracted driving, distracted cycling is dangerous.
- Make sure you have the right size bike – Just like helmet size is important, if you are riding a bicycle that is too large or too small for you, it could cause you to have a wreck. This not only includes the bicycle’s overall size, but also how you adjust the bike. If you are standing over your bike, there should be 1 or 2 inches between you and the top tube/bar if it is a road bike. If it’s a mountain bike, it should be 3 or 4 inches. Your bike’s seat should be level and the seat’s height should allow you to have a slight bend in your knee when your leg is fully extended. Your handlebars should be the same height as your seat.
- Avoid riding at night or in bad weather – If possible, do not ride at night. It’s too hard for drivers to see you and it is hard for you to see where you’re riding. In addition, the same goes for bad weather. Rain makes the roads slick and lowers visibility for you and motor vehicle drivers. Other forms of bad weather, such as lightning, flooding, hail, high winds, and fog, pose dangers as well. Save your rides for the daytime and good weather.
- Avoid busy roads if possible – Cyclists can get lost in the hustle and bustle of heavy traffic. Suddenly, drivers are less concerned with keeping an eye out for you and more occupied with dealing with other cars and trucks. That can lead to them not seeing bicyclists until it’s too late, resulting in bike accidents. Staying on less busy roads is a safer route to take.
- If you are riding with others, ride single file – It’s great to enjoy a bike ride with a group, but make sure there is enough room for all of you, especially on a busy roadway. The best way to ride when you’re in a group is single file. It helps leave enough space for motor vehicles and bikes to share the road, and it prevents you and your fellow cyclists from sideswiping each other and causing a pileup.
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Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law, PLLC has been a fixture in the Virginia legal community since 1973. Our experienced bike accident lawyers have been helping injury victims and their families hold those responsible for their pain and suffering accountable for decades. We know what it takes to protect our clients’ rights and successfully guide them through the legal process of recovering the compensation they need for current and future medical costs, living expenses, and loss of income (if their injuries prevent them from working).
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