There are so many benefits to bike riding: it’s fun, it’s healthy, and it’s an eco-friendly way to get from A to B.
That said, there is one downside to biking: an increased risk of harm on the road.
If you or your family members bike on the road at all (and not just on bike trails), there is the risk that you will be involved in an accident with a motor vehicle. The sad fact is that drivers of cars, trucks, SUVs, and semis just aren’t always looking out for bicyclists (or motorcyclists) on the road. Motor vehicle drivers aren’t used to seeing or interacting with cycles: they may fail to give the right of way, cut you off, or swerve into you when changing lanes.
If an accident happens, the bicyclist is more likely to be seriously injured or even killed. (Bikes don’t offer much in the way of protection.) In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 783 cyclists were killed in 2017 (the latest data).
This is why it’s so important to be safety-conscious and especially vigilant for bad drivers.
At Casper & Casper, our personal injury lawyers have seen the devastating impact of a bicycle-car accident on the cyclist and want to prevent you from experiencing this same tragedy. Here are some tips for keeping yourself safe on the road this summer.
#1 Make sure your bike is road-safe.
Before you climb onto your bike, make sure that it’s safe to ride. Check the front wheel, handlebars, brakes, pedals, saddle, and rear wheel.
- All parts – firmly attached, with nothing broken or missing tension
- Tires – should be properly inflated with no worn patches
- Brakes – should not allow the bike to move forward or backward without the rear or front tire lifting off the ground
- Handlebars – should not move independently of the front wheel
- Pedals – should not be loose
- Chain – should move smoothly and maintain tension with no catching
- Saddle – should be at the right height
In addition, make sure that you’re riding a bike that fits you.
#2 Avoid danger zones and times.
There are certain areas and specific times of day that are more dangerous for cyclists. Most bike deaths (75%) occur in urban areas. Deaths also most often occur from 6pm to 9pm.
When you can, avoid biking late in the evening or in dense urban areas. If you must ride your bike then and there, make sure to be particularly careful.
We also recommend planning your route so you can take roads with less traffic, slower speed limits, and bike lanes (if they’re available).
#3 Wear protective gear.
Wearing a properly fitted helmet won’t prevent an accident, but it will make it more likely that you’ll emerge unscathed.
To find a well-fitting helmet, try on several sizes. The helmet should sit level on your head and low on your forehead. It should have a chin strap that fits snugly underneath your chin.
In addition to your helmet, make sure to wear clothing that won’t get caught in the chain or spokes or the wheel.
For kids, also consider having them wear elbow and knee pads.
#4 Drive defensively.
Driving defensively means staying focused and aware of what the motorists around you are doing. You can’t always count on other drivers obeying the rules of the road.
Here is what you can do to drive defensively:
- Drive in the same direction as traffic.
- Obey all street signs, traffic lights, and road markings (just as you would in a motor vehicle).
- Look around you for potential hazards, including potholes and parked car doors opening.
- Don’t text or talk on your phone while biking.
#5 Be predictable.
Unfortunately, some bicyclists give the rest a bad name. They might weave in between sidewalks and the road, ride in the crosswalk, fail to signal a turn, and exhibit other poor cycling behavior.
Unpredictable cycling behavior makes a motor vehicle-bike crash more likely. Drivers aren’t on the lookout for traffic on sidewalks or bikes moving from the crosswalk onto the road. (In fact, bicyclists over age 16 are not allowed to ride on sidewalks in Ohio.)
Instead, make sure to be predictable so that drivers around you know what to expect, and follow all bike laws.
Have you had a bike accident?
We hope that these tips help as many cyclists as possible to stay safe on the road.
However, we know that bicyclists can do all the right things and still suffer an accident thanks to a careless motor vehicle driver.
If you or a loved one have suffered injuries in a bike accident caused by a car, contact us for help. We are here to talk you through your options and find out if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Call to schedule a free consultation with a Cincinnati, OH personal injury attorney today.