How to Avoid Bicycle Accidents: Tips for Safe Riding
Bicycling is a popular activity that provides numerous benefits, such as improving fitness, reducing carbon footprint, and saving money on transportation costs. However, it also poses risks, such as accidents that can cause severe injuries or even death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 857 bicyclists died in crashes with motor vehicles in 2018, and the number of non-fatal injuries was estimated at 47,000.
If you have been involved in a bicycle accident, it is essential to seek the help of a bicycle accident lawyer from Los Angeles who is experienced in representing cyclists. These lawyers understand the unique challenges that cyclists face on the road and can help you get back on your feet. To prevent such tragedies, it's essential to follow some basic safety rules and habits when riding a bike, whether for commuting, recreation, or exercise. Here are some tips for safe riding:
- Wear a Helmet
A bicycle helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment you can wear, as it can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85%. However, it's not enough to have a helmet; you also need to wear it correctly. Make sure that it fits snugly on your head, covers the forehead, and doesn't move around when you shake your head. Also, adjust the straps so that they form a V-shape around your ears, and fasten the chin strap securely. Replace your helmet if it's damaged, cracked, or more than five years old, as it may not provide adequate protection.
- Check Your Bike
Before you ride your bike, it's essential to check its condition, as even a minor defect can cause an accident. Check the tires for signs of wear, damage, or low pressure, and inflate them to the recommended level, which is usually marked on the sidewall. Check the brakes for proper function, by squeezing the levers and making sure that the pads contact the rims or discs. Check the chain for proper tension and lubrication, and make sure that the gears shift smoothly. Check the handlebars, pedals, and seat for looseness or damage, and tighten or replace them as necessary. If you're not sure how to perform these checks, take your bike to a professional mechanic for a tune-up.
- Obey Traffic Laws
Bicycles are considered vehicles under most traffic laws, which means that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles. Therefore, you should obey traffic signals, signs, and lane markings, and ride in the same direction as traffic. Use hand signals to indicate your intentions to turn, stop, or change lanes, and make eye contact with drivers to ensure that they see you. Yield to pedestrians, and give them the right of way at crosswalks or sidewalks. Don't ride on sidewalks, unless it's allowed by local laws or necessary to avoid a hazardous situation. Don't ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as it impairs your judgment and reaction time.
- Be Visible
One of the main causes of bicycle accidents is the lack of visibility, as most collisions occur when drivers don't see bicyclists or misjudge their speed or direction. Therefore, it's crucial to make yourself visible to drivers, especially at night or in low-light conditions. Wear bright or reflective clothing, and use lights or reflectors on your bike, including a white front light, a red rear light, and red reflectors on the pedals, wheels, and back. Avoid riding in blind spots, such as beside or behind vehicles, and use extra caution at intersections, driveways, or other areas where cars may turn or cross your path.
- Stay Alert and Defensive
Riding a bike requires constant vigilance and awareness of your surroundings, as you're exposed to various hazards, such as potholes, gravel, debris, or animals. Therefore, it's essential to stay alert and defensive and anticipate potential risks before they occur. Scan the road ahead for obstacles, and adjust your speed or position to avoid them. Keep a safe distance from other vehicles, and don't assume that they will yield or respect your right of way. Be prepared to swerve or brake suddenly, if necessary, and use your horn or voice to signal your presence or warn others. Don't listen to music or use your phone while riding, as it distracts you from the road.
Riding a bike can be a fun and healthy activity, but it can also be dangerous if you don't follow some basic safety rules and habits. By wearing a helmet, checking your bike, obeying traffic laws, being visible, and staying alert and defensive, you can reduce the risk of accidents and enjoy a safe and enjoyable ride. Remember that your safety is in your hands and that every ride is an opportunity to practice and improve your skills and habits. Happy cycling!