Every May, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hosts Bicycle Safety Month to remind both riders and drivers how to share the road. As avid bikers, our team at Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers fully supports this awareness and education effort.
Though this May looks nothing like any of us could have imagined, we believe information about bicycle safety is more important than ever. With gyms, parks, and beaches closed, more people are finding their helmets, refilling their tires, and using their bikes for transportation and exercise. This is in addition to the existing upward trend in bike commuting across America.
We are excited to see more riders joining us on the roads, but with an increase in traffic comes an increased chance of accidents. Especially as bikers, following the rules of the road is essential to staying safe. Though helmets help protect us, they only cushion our heads—and, in bad crashes, even that may not be enough.
Whether you love to go out on your bike or prefer to travel on 4 wheels, take a moment to review the safety tips below so you can be better at sharing the road.
Drivers: Stay Alert and Leave Space
In 2018, the NHTSA recorded a total of 857 bicyclists killed in traffic accidents. As the number of bikers on the roads has gone up, so has the number of fatal accidents (in 2015, the death toll was 829). Bikers can and do have accidents for many reasons, but being hit by a car is more dangerous than many other causes. Therefore, drivers can do a lot to reduce this devastating death rate:
- Leave at least 3 feet between you and a biker when passing (this is required by law in Florida)
- Yield right-of-way to bikers as you would to drivers—they follow the same laws
- Look over your right shoulder before moving into a right turn lane or making a right turn
- Check for bicyclists coming in the opposite direction before making a left turn—and don’t try to beat them through the intersection, as you may be underestimating their speed
- Don’t park in, pull over in, or turn from bike lanes
- When parallel parked, check for bikers before opening your door or pulling out onto the road
In a lot of car accidents, we hear the excuse, “I just didn’t see them.” This happens even more when bicyclists are hit because they are much smaller than the vehicles drivers are used to looking for. Taking an extra second to scan won’t make you late—but it could prevent an accident.
Bikers: Follow Rules and Stay Visible
Navigating the roads on a bike can be difficult, especially when traffic is heavy and/or lighting is poor. While we can’t always help the conditions we’re riding in, we can make choices to keep ourselves safe no matter where we are. As a biker, you should:
- Do your best to be visible by wearing bright/reflective clothing and using lights if it’s dark or hard to see
- Check your bike before leaving to make sure the tires are full, brakes are working, etc., especially if you haven’t ridden in a while
- Follow all rules of traffic—this means you should never ride on the sidewalk
- Make your movements easy to predict by abiding by laws and using hand signals
- Keep an eye out for obstacles in your path—and if at all possible, fall back to let traffic pass you before you must navigate them
- Stay alert by stowing electronics and taking off your headphones
Of course, you should also follow common-sense safety measures: Wear a helmet, make sure you know the rules before you go on the road, and don’t bike while under the influence. Riding your bike can be a lot of fun, but don’t forget that you’re a part of traffic—and traffic safety—while you’re out.
Practice Your Bike Safety Skills This May
The more we talk about bike safety, the more everyone on the road will remember to take the precautions that prevent bike and car accidents. If you haven’t ridden a bike lately, there’s never been a better time to get back into it. Many of us are facing increased stress due to the novel coronavirus, and frankly, it can be hard to get enough exercise when you’re advised to stay home as much as possible. Biking is a great solution to both issues. Studies have shown those who bike, especially outdoors (rather than on a stationary bike), receive health benefits including:
- Increased memory and reasoning skills
- Faster cognition
- Reduced stress
- Fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Protection against degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Biking is also an excellent form of exercise that can help increase your heart rate without causing too much stress on your body. Even a short ride can bring big health benefits.
Next time you leave the house, whether you’re planning to walk, bike, or drive, take a few moments to think about how you can make a difference and promote safer roads. It’s another kind of togetherness we can practice while staying far apart.
Contact the Bicycle Accident Law Firm Of Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers To Get The Help You Deserve
If you need help with your injury case or you want to learn more information, please call the Bicycle Accident law firm of Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers at (727) 787-2500 or visit the nearest location to schedule a free case evaluation today.
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