Five Ways to Prevent Bike Accidents
Riding a bicycle can be a lot of fun and great exercise. Riding for an hour on a bike can burn approximately 500 calories while toning muscles, providing a great low-impact workout. It’s also a great, environmentally friendly mode of transportation that can help you reach places inaccessible by automobiles, such as hiking trails and tight off-road paths.
It also has mental health benefits, allowing you to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and the sun on your skin. For others, it creates an adrenaline rush as they push themselves to new speeds or try out tricks and ramps.
Whatever your reason for climbing on the bicycle, every time you do so, you face risks that can lead to accidents. While some of these accidents can be relatively minor, others can be life-threatening and may require the aid of a Denver injury attorney to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Here are five ways you can prevent bike accidents:
Be Wary of Vehicles
Most serious bicycling accidents involve car drivers, and most of these incidents are preventable with a bit of foresight and caution. Here are some tips that can help reduce the chances that you become the victim of a car accident while riding your bike:
- Wear Visible Clothing - One of the most significant reasons people get hurt is because a motorist fails to see a cyclist, especially when visibility is limited, such as at night. Always wear bright colors (fluorescent is best) and reflective clothing that draws a driver’s attention.
- Bike Lights - Your bike should have a flashing red light on the back and a flashing white light on the front. These lights will draw greater attention to your bike, and you should use them even during the daytime. Some gift shops in Denver even carry multicolored spoke lights if you’re looking to add a unique touch to your safety lighting.
- Use Hand Signals - Unexpected turning can cause accidents, just as when a driver doesn’t use a turn signal. Drivers often anticipate while driving; if you do something unexpected, they may not have time to react. To be safe, always use hand signals well in advance to signify your intentions to drivers.
- Choose Appropriate Lanes - Some roads have sidewalks or bike lanes, while others don’t. If you have no option but to bike on the road, it is generally a good idea to choose either the left or right part of the lane. However, if you select the right edge, other drivers are more likely to try to squeeze past you, causing a potentially unsafe situation. It may be best to stay closer to the yellow line to the left to make yourself more visible and encourage others to pass using the other lane (if applicable).
- Be Aware - There are a lot of aspects to this rule, which can give you more time to react if a driver is unaware of you. First, never assume that drivers see you; it might be your last assumption. Make use of a bicycle mirror to understand better what is behind you and be aware of all cars around you, keeping your distance, even from those parked. Many accidents occur because a motorist unexpectedly opens a car door as a cyclist passes.
- Know the Roads - Make sure you know and follow all traffic laws and understand the different rules for various types of roads. Avoid multi-lane highways whenever possible, especially main thoroughfares within a town or city, as the traffic (and therefore, risk) is generally greater.
Choose the Right Bike
Even if a bike is an incredible deal or looks like your dream ride, make sure it is appropriate for your build. If it is too large or small, that can interfere with your ability to control it, which can be a severe liability when you need to react quickly to avoid an accident.
Bicycles are generally sized based on height, and each manufacturer should have a scale you can consult so you know which options are best for you. If you do not have access to one, you should consult the salesperson if applicable. As a last resort, a basic rule of thumb is that you should be able to stand flat-footed while on the bike and have a few inches between you and the seat.
Remember that if something can distract you while driving a car, it can also distract you while riding a bike. This rule goes for cell phones, headphones and earbuds, or even simple daydreaming.
If you are on “autopilot” or cannot hear approaching cars, horns, or other warning signs, you will be unable to react in the event of a dangerous situation. Even though it can be boring if you follow the same route daily between school, work, or even a friend’s house, the excitement of getting hit by a car or failing to notice a severe pothole will not be an enjoyable alternative.
Speed and Control
Many accidents happen because cyclists are riding at unsafe velocities or are not maintaining complete control of the handlebars. Always keep both hands on the handlebars and ride at safe speeds because that will give you the best chance to react if something or someone unexpectedly crosses your path.
Check Your Brakes
Cresting a majestic hill and then discovering that your brakes are out might be an adrenaline rush, but likely not what you had in mind. Every time you climb onto your bike, perform a quick brake check to ensure everything is in working order.
If the brakes are not working or it takes too long to come to a stop, you will need to have them replaced. If you do not know how to do this yourself, you should take it to a professional. Improperly installing new brakes can be as dangerous as riding without them if they are not working effectively.
The Bottom Line
Taking proper precautions can reduce the chances of getting involved in an accident while riding your bike. Drive safely on a suitable bike, be aware of other drivers, and follow all safety laws to keep yourself as safe as possible.
Remember, no matter how prepared you are, there is still a risk of getting involved in an accident. That is why it is vital to always wear a helmet and other protective gear to minimize any damage you might suffer if the worst comes to pass.
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