How to Stay Safe While Riding Your Bike

Biking accidents are on the rise. According to recent statistics, bike accidents have increased by 50% in the last two years. This is an alarming statistic that should not be ignored. Bike safety can be improved with a few simple changes to your biking habits and equipment – these include wearing helmets, using lights at night, and locking up your bike when it’s not in use.

  1. Wear a helmet

Always wear a helmet. This is not just for your own safety, but also the lives of others that might be around you while cycling! It’s important to always protect your head because helmets have been shown to have a 90% effectiveness rate in preventing traumatic brain injuries or other head wounds like skull fractures.

  1. Ride with traffic, not against it

First, riding against traffic makes it very difficult (and dangerous) to make a right turn. Second, when cycling on the left, cyclists are 3.6 times more likely to suffer an accident. Head-on impacts are simply much more dangerous than other accidents, so riding with the traffic flow is the safest way to travel on the road.

  1. Use Hand Signals

To tell drivers you are turning left, hold your left arm out. To tell drivers you are turning right, hold your right arm out.

  1. Make sure your bike is in good condition before you ride it

Bicycle equipment malfunctions contribute to a significant number of crashes. You can reduce the risk of an accident by checking your bike, helmet, and gear before you hit any roads or trails.

Make sure that tires are properly inflated. This should be checked at least once per week. Check lights for proper function (including reflectors) and inspect chains/gears carefully as they may need adjustments if they are not functioning correctly.

  1. Make eye contact with drivers.

This is important, but don’t rely on eye contact alone. In addition to making eye contact, see if you can gauge the behavior of the drivers. Are they focused on the road, or are they distracted by their surroundings or their phone?

  1. Avoid riding in poor weather conditions.

If the weather forecast says that it will be raining or snowing, or if there is ice outside, find an alternative way to get to your destination. Bad weather conditions greatly increase the odds of getting into an accident. If it is raining, it limits your visibility, and it is more difficult to see deep potholes in puddles. In snowy or icy conditions, black ice can easily catch you off guard.

  1. Ride with someone else. 

When you can, go on a bike ride with at least one other person. Two bikes are easier to see than one. If you get into an accident, there will be more people to help with an extra set of hands or eyes as a witness.

  1. Yield to others.

The fact that you might have the right of way means nothing if the driver does not notice you. If they are distracted, they might not see you. When you see a car coming, make sure that you are riding slowly enough to get out of the way if necessary.

  1. Always use designated bike lanes when they are available.

Always use the bike lanes when they are available. Other drivers on the road are not going to expect cyclists to travel on the main travel lanes when bike lanes are available, so this creates dangerous conditions for cyclists who don’t use the marked lanes.

  1. Wear bright colors and reflective clothing.

Bike safety is important no matter what areas or surfaces you are riding on. It’s never a good idea to assume that cars will see you ahead of time; even if they do, it might be too late for them to stop in time! Wear bright colors and a reflective safety vest so drivers will see you.

  1. Never text while riding.

Don’t use your cell phone or engage in other distracting behaviors when riding your bike. And in that same vein, it’s a good idea to avoid wearing earbuds, headphones, or anything else that will restrict or reduce your focus while riding.

  1. No drinking while riding.

You might not be driving a heavy automobile but drinking and riding is still a bad idea. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions which makes it more likely for you to engage in risky behavior. Alcohol also slows your reaction time. A significant percentage of bike accidents occur because of alcohol.

  1. Keep your hands on the handlebars.

Staying balanced is especially important when riding at higher speeds, as one dip or bump in the roadway could cause you to lose balance.

What To Do When You Get into an Accident on a Bicycle

If you are injured in an accident, the first step is to call 911. They can coordinate your emergency medical treatment if necessary and law enforcement can file an official police report that may be invaluable when filing an injury claim. After calling 911, what else should you do?

Exchange insurance and contact information with all the parties in the incident. Also ask the witnesses for their contact information so the police and the claims adjusters can get their statements.

Take photos of the scene of the accident so you will have evidence of the scene at the time of the incident.

Get medical attention regardless of whether you believe you were injured or not. This is because many injuries are not readily apparent right after an accident, and it will provide a paper trail to document your injuries after the accident. Some concussions, soft tissue injuries, and internal bleeding may take time before there are symptoms.

Reach Out to a Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been in an accident with an automobile while riding your bike, it makes sense to speak with a personal injury lawyer who handles bicycle accident cases. They will understand the unique circumstances and injures that may be involved when a cyclist is involved in an accident with a car. Reach out to the Richmond attorneys at Epperly & Follis today to schedule your initial consultation at 804-648-6480 or our online form.

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