Riding your bike is a healthy and eco-friendly mode of transportation and a great way to go and enjoy the outdoors. While cycling can be a great way to get around and explore your neighborhood, it comes with inherent risks especially when sharing the road with motor vehicles. If you are riding your bike it is crucial that you understand and practice safe habits that can help significantly reduce the likelihood of getting into an accident. In this article we will be outlining essential safety tips for both cyclists and drivers to keep the road safe for everyone.
For Cyclists: Sharing the Road
As a cyclist you are much less protected, this makes your safety crucial. Keep these tips in mind when you are on your bicycle:
Wear Protective Gear
If you are on a bicycle you should always be wearing a helmet. A helmet acts as your first defense against head injuries, reducing your risk of a head injury by 85%, and severe brain injury by at least 75%. Aside from wearing a helmet, wearing bright colored clothing and reflective gear can make yourself more visible to drivers. As a cyclist it is vital to your safety that you are seen by everyone you are sharing the road with, wearing bright clothing or reflective gear can be the difference from a casual bike ride and a catastrophic accident.
Follow Traffic Laws
Bicycles are considered a vehicle here in Utah. This means that you have the same rights as any vehicle on the road, but you also have to follow the same traffic laws. While on your bike make sure that you obey all traffic laws, traffic signals, and lane markings. Be sure that you signal your intentions to turn and stop using hand signals, as well as stay in a bike lane anytime there is one available.
The easiest way of staying safe while riding your bike is to be seen. If you are riding your bike at night use lights (white light in the front and red flashing light in the back) and consider using reflective tape on your bike. Try your best to avoid riding in the blind spot of a vehicle and make sure that you are visible in the rearview mirrors of nearby vehicles.
Practice Defensive Riding
If you are riding your bike practice defensive riding. You can practice defensive riding by always being aware of your surroundings and assuming that vehicles do not see you. Try to anticipate any potential hazards, such as car doors opening, potholes, or a vehicle slamming on its brakes in front of you.
Choose Routes Wisely
Your safety on a bike is linked directly to the safety of where you are riding it. If it is possible, always use a bike lane or paths. These paths are designed specifically for cyclists and are typically much safer than riding on the road. Before you take off on your journey, try to plan out your route so that you are biking on well lit areas that have less vehicular traffic, especially if you are planning on riding during peak traffic hours.
For Drivers: Sharing the Road Safely
As a driver you have a responsibility to keep the road safe for everyone who is sharing it, including cyclists. You can keep the road safe for cyclists by:
Be Mindful of Cyclists
A cyclist has the same rights as any other vehicle; that being said, it is crucial that you give them the same respect as any other motor vehicle. Give them ample room when they are passing, in Utah this means giving a cyclist at least three feet of clearance at all times.
Check for Bikes
Before you do anything with your car, opening a door, making a turn, or changing lanes, look for a cyclist. Cyclists are much smaller and can go unnoticed if you do not check for them. Be especially cautious at intersections and when you make a right turn, as cyclists may be approaching on your right side.
Avoid Distracted Driving
From 2017-2021 distracted driving caused 27,514 accidents resulting in 15,004 injuries and 83 deaths. Taking your eyes off the road for any reason can lead to serious consequences. While you are driving try to stay off of your phone and avoid any activities that can divert your attention from the road.
Use Turn Signals
Your turn signals have a purpose, and it is to indicate your actions before you take them. Always use your turn signals well in advance of making a turn or changing lanes to give both cyclists and other drivers adequate warning of the actions you are planning to take.
When driving try to understand that a cyclist may move slower than a vehicle in traffic. With that in mind, do not tailgate or honk unnecessarily at a cyclist, as this can startle them and potentially cause an accident.
The Worst Times to Ride Your Bike
Keeping yourself safe on your bike is only half of the battle, it is also important that as a cyclist you are aware of the most dangerous times of day to ride your bike. Statistically speaking, the most dangerous time to ride your bicycle is during peak traffic hours. These hours are generally from 6-9 a.m. and from 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays. These times coincide with heavy commuting traffic, and an increased risk of accidents. Additionally, riding at nighttime especially after 9.pm., poses higher risks due to reduced visibility and the higher likelihood of encountering impaired drivers.
Cycling is a wonderful activity that can make you appreciate your surroundings on a more personal level. This hobby can be enjoyed safely as long as both cyclists and drivers respect each other’s space and adhere to safe practices. At LifeLaw Personal Injury our team of the best bike accident lawyers want to foster a culture of safety and respect on the roads for all cyclists, so that we can ensure that everyone gets to their destination safely. If you have been injured in a bike accident be sure to contact LifeLaw Personal Injury. One of our attorneys, David Francis, is a former member of the U.S Cycling Team, along with former teammates Lance Armstrong, Jonathan Vaughters, and George Hincapie. This specialized knowledge allows us to better understand these complex accidents, and help you to the fullest of our abilities. Contact the best bike accident attorneys at LifeLaw Personal Injury today for a free consultation, and to discuss your options. 801-206-4002.