Biking has always been a popular way to get outside and exercise. During the pandemic, many cyclists were seen hitting the road. But cycling on the roads with heavy vehicles and speedy traffic is always difficult and requires a lot of precautions and safety measures. Adherence to these safety measures is crucial when it comes to biking. An average of two percent of crashes each year involve bicycles, And as many as around 843 dead cyclists were reported in 2019 alone. Fortunately, there are many ways to protect yourself from dangerous interactions with other vehicles on the road while cycling.
Stick to Bike lanes
Protected bike lanes make the road safer for both cyclists and car drivers. As bicycles are also vehicles, the same road rules apply to them as any other vehicle. This means following all traffic signs like halting at a red light, signaling turns, and riding in the bike lanes along with other traffic. Different states have different laws for cyclists, so one should know and follow them.
What Statistics show
According to the statistics, most of the accidents reported involved men and occurred in the evening resulting from peak traffic hours and lower visibility. Women are less affected because they seem to follow bike lanes more often than men. The number of deaths among cyclists 20 years and above has tripled since 1975, which is alarming.
“Biking can very easily turn dangerous, as a bike is much less safe and less protected in comparison to cars on the road. Following bike safety tips and wearing good safety gear can protect you and your loved ones from injury.” Says personal injury lawyer Charles Boyk, of Charles E. Boyk Law Offices LLC.
Safety measures to follow
Following some safety measures can help you ride safely and prevent accidents. First, your bike must have proper lights. Ideally, white light in front and a red light at the back. But if there are low light conditions and you need to increase your visibility, you can add battery-powered or rechargeable lights or reflective strips to your bike frame or wheels. You can also use reflective clothing and backpacks to make yourself fully visible to other vehicles on the road.
Wearing a helmet is the most important protection while biking. Out of 843 reported deaths in 2019, only 127 wore helmets while the other 520 did not. This shows wearing a helmet can save you from fatal injuries. In some states, helmets are also required per law for children under 18.
As for alcohol, the same rule applies to bikers, do not drink while riding. About 21 percent of cyclists 16 and older who died in 2019 had alcohol concentration in their blood at or above 0.08 percent.
Driving predictably is very important. This means to stay focused on your route, stay in your lane, use appropriate hand signaling while taking turns. Always remain on high alert and don’t panic.
Avoiding parked cars is as important as preventing moving traffic. The term “doored” is used for cyclists hit by doors of parked vehicles that opened suddenly without checking the cyclist. This may result in a severe injury; that’s why it is essential to drive a few feet away from the parallel parked cars.
Sudden stopping and slowing of cars are also a cause of accidents. Thirty-five percent of accidents occur at intersections. Sometimes while you are riding in your bike lane, some panicked car driver can enter your lane unpredictably. Therefore it is important to stay focused all the time while driving.
If at some point you are feeling not well it is ok to stop by and relax for some time. Focus on your route, don’t panic, choose an alternate route if not feeling comfortable.
Follow these simple steps to protect yourself and avoid dangerous interactions with other vehicles on the road when you mount your pedal-powered vehicle. Stay safe and enjoy your ride.