Bicycling is a great way to travel that is friendly for the environment and beneficial for your health. However, bicycling on the road does come with some drawbacks because getting into an accident can be very dangerous. Since cars are so much bigger than bicycles, you may be more likely to get severely hurt if you are hit while biking. If you enjoy biking on public roads, be sure to follow these five tips from a top DC personal injury lawyer to stay as safe as possible.
- Follow All Local Laws
Bicyclists are not exempt from the general laws that govern vehicles on the roads. Just like automobile drivers, bicyclists should travel on the correct side of the road with the general flow of traffic and follow signs and traffic signals. Instead of driving on the sidewalk, cyclists should either use the designated bicycle lane or the rightmost side of the road. If you need to turn, you should clearly signal with your arm before the turn, and left turns are safer when you make them at a crosswalk.
- Be As Visible As Possible
Bicyclists do not take up as much space as cars, so most accidents happen when a vehicle is not aware that a cyclist is nearby. Therefore, it is best to wear bright clothing whenever you ride a bike. Being visible is particularly important at night, so you should avoid cycling in dark clothing once the sun goes down. If you are riding your bike at night, make sure that it has reflectors and consider installing a white light on the front and a red light on the back. You should always wear a helmet, and choosing a bright helmet with reflectors will further increase your visibility.
- Keep Your Bike in Good Condition
A lot of bicycle accidents occur because a sudden flat tire or broken brake causes a cyclist to swerve suddenly or crash into something. Before you ride, you should always quickly go over your bike and make sure that everything is in working condition. Avoid riding a faulty bike in a public area, because it increases your risk of getting into an accident.
- Be Extra Careful in Bad Weather
Generally, bicyclists do not bike in rainy or stormy weather, but there are certain safety precautions to take if you must bike in inclement weather. Wet roads are much more slippery, so be careful to brake farther back than you usually would. Weather can also greatly impair visibility, so try to take extra precautions and avoid busy roads during these times.
- Watch Other People
Even if you know that you legally have the right of way, you do not want to risk your life on the assumption that other automobile drivers also know your legal rights. Try to anticipate what the cars and other cyclists around you will do, so that you can avoid anything that seems to be coming at a collision course to you. Things to keep an eye out for include turning vehicles, suddenly opened doors on parked cars, and pedestrians crossing the road.
Even if a bicyclist follows these safety tips, accidents may occasionally happen. If you are in a collision with another cyclist or a car, having an experienced attorney can help you to positively resolve the situation. Contact us today at (503) 546-3167 to learn more about how we can help you find a solution after your accident.
Thank you to our friends and co-contributors at Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their added insight into bicycle safety.