Five Ways to Cycle Safer

In 2011, fully 48,000 cyclists were injured in collisions with motor vehicles in the United States. That substantial number does not include the nearly 700 fatalities. Bikes and cars sharing the road have an inherently dangerous relationship. What can cyclists do to protect themselves?

  • Do not drink and bike. More than one-fourth of the cyclists who died in accidents in 2011 had consumed a testable level of alcohol. People often think that cycling drunk is the safer alternative to driving while intoxicated. It is not. If you have been drinking, lock up your bike along with your car keys.
  • Obey the rules of the road. You can easily cut corners on a bike (literally), especially when in a hurry and particularly approaching things like stop signs. Failing to obey the rules of the road is dangerous, though, and puts you at incredible risk.
  • Make yourself visible to cars. Stay out of cars’ blind spots, avoid riding on the sidewalk and use hand signals to let drivers know where you are going before you turn.
  • Do not rush. Most bike accidents occur in the evening, during rush hour when the most cars are on the road — but also when cyclists are hurrying to get home. Slow down and enjoy your ride. You started cycling in the first place for enjoyment, right?
  • Always, always wear a helmet. Even for short trips and rides where you are staying in your neighborhood, you need a helmet that fits and is up to current safety standards. Bear in mind that helmets are designed for a single impact. If you have fallen in yours before, you may need to replace it.

One last tip: If you do get into an accident with an automobile while cycling, be prepared. Call the police to make a report. Get the driver’s information (driver’s license, license plate, registration). And call an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you in a claim. As a careful cyclist, you have every right to demand that drivers exercise equal responsibility in sharing the road.

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