Preventing bicycle accidents is a shared responsibility. While there’s a lot that motorists can do to reduce the risk of bicycle crashes, we wanted to publish some safety tips for bicyclists themselves. If drivers remember to share the road and bicyclists keep safety in mind at all times, we can work together to bring the number of fatal bicycle accidents down from 867 in 2018 to zero in the next several years.
As a bicyclist, you can reduce your risk of bicycle accidents by following these safety tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National Safety Council (NSC), and other online resources:
Tip #1: Always Wear a Helmet
Every bike ride begins with putting on a helmet. This protective device can reduce your risk of brain injuries and death. The NHTSA even has a helpful guide for choosing the right helmet. Make sure your helmet is certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and fits snugly on your head, about 2 finger-widths above the eyebrow.
Tip #2: Dress Appropriately
When you dress for a bike ride, keep both visibility and mobility in mind. Wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright clothing during the day and reflective clothing at night. Leave your flip-flops, sandals, cleats, and high-heeled shoes at home and opt for sneakers when you ride. Be mindful that your shoelaces do not get caught in your chain and consider tucking your laces and pantlegs into your shoe to prevent any mishaps.
If you’re carrying anything with you, be sure to put it in a backpack (mind the straps), in your bike basket, or on your rear rack. Keep your hands free and don’t wear headphones – you need your focus to hear and respond to important noises around you, like a car horn or warnings from other cyclists.
Tip #3: Prepare Your Bicycle
Even if you are dressed for success, the wrong bicycle could lead to an accident. Choose a bike that fits you and isn’t too big – and ensure it is in good working order before you leave. The top of your bike should be a few inches below you when you stand over it and your seat should allow a slight bend at the knee when your leg is fully extended.
Check your brakes and make certain your tires are inflated properly before setting off. No matter how skilled a cyclist you are, you can’t control a bike that is too big for you or has faulty brakes.
Tip #4: Plan Your Route
It is far more dangerous to ride at night than during the day, so ride during daylight hours whenever possible. If you will be riding in the dark, plan ahead and have reflectors on the front and rear of your bicycle and on your tires. You may want to consider adding (flashing) red lights to the back of your bike and a bright white light to the front.
Your safest route may also be away from traffic, so look for roads with bicycle lanes or plan to stay on a bike path the whole way. If you must ride with traffic, ride with the flow, in the same direction as traffic and choose roads with less traffic and slower speeds.
Tip #5: Bike Defensively
When you ride on the road, you have the same rights and responsibilities as a car. Obey all street signs, signals, and road markings and avoid driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Use hand signals to communicate your turns and other actions, scan ahead for potential hazards that could cause you to fall, and always assume other drivers do not see you.
Keep your focus on the road at all times. Do not send messages, adjust navigation, or listen to music while riding, and refrain from doing anything that takes your eyes, ears, hands, or mind off the road and traffic.
Bonus Tip: Know Who to Call
No matter how much preparation and care you put into your ride, a negligent motorist could still cause an accident. If this occurs, you may be entitled to compensation.
After a bicycle accident, you can always call Zayas Law Firm for a free, confidential consultation.
If you’ve been harmed and want to put nearly 45 years of combined legal experience on your side, call us at (860) 278-0820 or set up your case review online.
We are available for you 24/7 and offer services in English and en español.