Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Don’t Just Spin Your Wheels: Road Safety Tips for Cyclists

January is taking on a bit of a safety theme with this next post - perhaps I'll continue that through the month with some of my own contributions on the topic as it is something I think of often while I'm riding.

Some of the safety errors I see by fellow riders make me sad and want to share some tips to help us all be safer and make the roads a better place for all users. But I tend to get bogged down in all the tech stuff because it's what I'm such a geek for... So; with that, I'll let my associate from Adams Law Firm in Texas kick off the rest of the month with some great tips. Enjoy!

With cars zipping past you at forty miles an hour, cycling on public roads can be a terrifying experience for new and experienced riders alike. That's why personal injury lawyer Kelvin Adams recommends knowing the best ways to keep yourself safe while riding your bicycle.

Bike Safety​What to Wear

The first, and most important, thing a rider can do to protect themselves is to always wear a helmet when riding. Brain injury is the most likely cause of death in a cycling crash. Even if it is not required by law to wear one in your area, it as very important to wear a properly fitting helmet. Also important is making sure that drivers are able to see you. High-visibility clothing and bicycle mounted reflectors will make cyclists more noticeable to motorists, making it easier to avoid hitting them. Front and rear lights should also always be used when cycling at night.

Plan Ahead

Some places are safer for cyclists than others, so it is a good idea to plan a route before leaving home. Roadside bicycle lanes, dedicated bicycle paths and multi-use paths are the safest places to ride. Roads with a wide, unobstructed shoulder are also good.

If you must take a route where there is no shoulder, or the shoulder is covered in debris or otherwise obstructed, it is safest to ride in the center of the right car lane. If you ride too close to the right edge, motorists may try to squeeze around you, creating a dangerous situation should you have to swerve to avoid an obstacle in the road. It is also important to take the center of the lane when there are parked cars on the shoulder. Riding next to parked cars could cause a crash if somebody were to open their door at the wrong time. While riding in the center of the lane may aggravate some drivers, it is much better to be honked at by a rude driver than to be sideswiped by a car trying to pass too closely.

Know the Laws

It is unsafe, and in most places unlawful, for bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk. Motorists exiting driveways are not expecting a fast-moving vehicle to be on the sidewalk, and may not see a cyclist in time. If there is no other option but to ride on the sidewalk, go slowly, yield to any pedestrians and watch carefully for autos exiting driveways. Don't assume that a motorist sees you until you have made eye contact with them. Some sidewalks are intended to double as bicycle paths, so watch for appropriate signage.
When riding on the roadway, always follow all traffic laws the same way you would if you were driving. Stop at all stop signs and red lights. Yield to moving traffic before entering the roadway. Never ride against the flow of traffic. Use hand signals to alert drivers and other cyclists when you intend to turn, stop or move across lanes. The easiest way to signal a turn is to simply point in the direction you are going to turn. The same rules apply to riding on separated bike paths and multi-use paths. Do not exceed posted speed limits and announce yourself by calling out or ringing a bell when passing pedestrians or slower cyclists.

Adams Law Firm is located in San Marcos, Texas, and handles bicycle accident claims, among other personal injury and civil trial claims.

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