As bicycles gain popularity in many areas, the rate of bicycle accidents has continued to increase. Bike accidents can involve cars, pedestrians, or even other bicycles. Unfortunately for many cyclists, they have little protection to prevent serious injuries in these accidents. There are many things drivers and cyclists alike can do to prevent accidents.
Preventing Car & Bicycle Accidents
While any accident is dangerous, these types of accidents are particularly dangerous for cyclists. Cars are far heavier and faster than bicycles and bikes offer far less protection than a car, so it isn’t surprising that cyclists often are seriously injured in these accidents.
Tips for Cyclists:
- Slow down when approaching intersections, driveways, or other places a car may suddenly emerge from.
- Watch traffic carefully, and look for other cyclists as well.
- Always check traffic signs and signals when riding, and follow any traffic instructions.
- Avoid riding narrow or rural roads in poor weather or after dark.
- Use reflectors, bright clothing, and lights to increase your visibility to drivers.
- Never ride on the sidewalk, since this can make it difficult for drivers to see you at intersections.
- Always ride at a speed that will allow you to completely stop if necessary.
- Check mirrors frequently for traffic that may overtake you.
- Don’t stop side-by-side with cars at intersections.
- Don’t assume drivers will signal turns.
- Always look left and right for traffic before pulling out onto a street.
- Yield when required or if you suspect a driver doesn’t see you.
- Never ride or stop in a driver’s blind spots.
- Always ride in the same direction as traffic.
- Use appropriate hand signals to indicate turns.
- Take an entire lane when making a left turn to prevent cars from coming alongside you.
- Look out for hazards on the road.
Tips for Drivers:
- Always watch traffic around you for cyclists.
- Check your blind spots carefully before merging, changing lanes, or turning.
- Always follow traffic signs and signals.
- Never speed when driving, and slow down for darkness or poor conditions.
- Give cyclists at least 3 feet of space when passing them.
This unique type of accident is a very real hazard for cyclists, especially in more congested areas where drivers parallel park. Dooring accidents involve a driver opening a car door in front of a cyclist or into a cyclist, causing them to hit the door, swerve into traffic, or fall.
How Cyclists Can Avoid Dooring Accidents:
- Always ride with at least 4 feet of space between you and any parked cars.
- Check your mirrors for traffic behind you, in case it becomes necessary to swerve.
- Peek into parked cars to see if they are empty. Motion in a car can signal someone preparing to exit.
How Drivers Can Avoid Dooring Accidents:
- Practice the “Dutch Reach” when opening your car door. This means opening the door with your right hand, which causes you to turn in your seat so you can easily check for cyclists.
- Open your door slowly to avoid taking a cyclist by surprise.
- Don’t leave your door wide open when entering and exiting your vehicle.
- Try to leave your door open for the least amount of time possible.
Preventing Bicycle-on-Bicycle Accidents
With more and more cyclists taking to the roads, it is becoming far more common for cyclists to collide with each other. Whether on the road or on trails or paths, it is still important for cyclists to follow some general rules to prevent these accidents.
Tips to Prevent Bike-on-Bike Accidents:
- Always signal your turns or stops with the right hand signals.
- Never follow another cyclist too closely. You should be able to come to a safe stop if they suddenly brake or fall.
- Yield the right of way to other cyclists when making a turn.
- Use reflectors, bright clothing, and lights to ensure that you are visible, even in the dark or in poor weather.
- Always ride on the correct side of a path or road. You should be going with the flow of traffic, as if you were in a car.
- Communicate with other riders in a loud, clear voice.
- Never ride faster than your skill or the conditions allow.
Preventing Pedestrian & Bicycle Accidents
Drivers and other cyclists aren’t the only ones who can be involved in a bicycle accident. Pedestrians can also be harmed in a cycling accident. Bicyclists and pedestrians both can be injured in these accidents.
How Bicyclists Can Prevent Pedestrian Accidents:
- Never ride on the sidewalk.
- Be careful when making turns across or approaching crosswalks. Look for pedestrians.
- Look out for people who are passing between parked vehicles or getting into vehicles.
- Check for pedestrians before entering or exiting driveways.
- If cycling on a multi-use path or trail, communicate with pedestrians to alert them to your presence.
- Always used lights and reflectors to help pedestrians see you approaching.
- Slow down when passing pedestrians and give them plenty of clearance.
- Respect the right of way of pedestrians.
General Safety Tips for Cyclists
What you do on the road or trail can greatly affect your safety, but there are other things you can do to prevent injuries while riding. Here are some tips to help you cycle safely:
- Always ride a bike that is the appropriate size for your body.
- Wear a federally-approved bicycle helmet when riding. Those who ride without helmets are at a far greater risk of fatal accidents than riders who wear helmets.
- Always follow traffic laws.
- Choose lower-traffic areas to ride in whenever possible.
- Wear bright, reflective clothing and use reflectors on your bike to remain easily visible.
- Check your bike for any faulty or worn parts before you ride.
- Walk your bike across crosswalks at intersections, since this can prevent drivers from misjudging your speed and turning into you.
- Don’t wear anything that obstructs your vision while riding. Similarly, avoid listening to music, talking on the phone, or other activities that can distract you or make it a challenge to hear traffic.
- Always base your speed on conditions, traffic, and your skill.
- Use the whole lane to be visible and predictable to other drivers on the road.
- Always be careful when passing vehicles with large blind spots.
Bicycle accidents can be prevented with proper care, but that doesn’t mean that someone else’s negligent actions won’t cause an accident. If you or a loved one has been injured in a cycling accident, the Paulsen Law Group is here for you. Our experienced Dunedin bicycle accident attorney can help you handle your injury claims and fight to ensure you receive every penny you are owed.