Cycling is an incredibly popular activity, both as a means of exercise and as a legitimate form of transportation. To account for the uptick in popularity, many urban areas are undertaking expansive bicycle improvement projects to help make their roads safer for cyclists. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t still very serious risks attached to cycling.
According to recent traffic studies, 818 people lost their lives in bicycle/motor vehicle accidents in 2015 alone, with tens of thousands more suffering serious injuries. The sad reality is that in many of these cases, the accident in question was caused by recklessness or negligence on the part of the automobile driver.
So does this mean that cyclists should hang up their helmets in order to avoid a serious injury or worse? Of course not. But it is important for cyclists to do everything they can to stay safe on the road and to overcompensate for the potentially dangerous actions of other motorists. With that in mind, here are 7 simple things every cyclist can do to increase safety when riding near cars.
Ride Like a Car
The vast majority of drivers are not looking out for cyclists. If they’re paying attention at all, they’re paying attention to other motor vehicles on the road. As such, try and operate your bike similarly to how a driver would operate a car—don’t drift in and out of traffic or ride down the center stripe.
On the Right!
Following up on the point above, if there is enough room and it’s safe for you to do so, ride on the right hand side of the road in the same direction as traffic. Not only is this proven to be the safest place and way for you to ride, but in the unfortunate event that an accident does occur, you will suffer fewer and less serious injuries in a rear-end collision than a head-on collision.
Make Some Uncomfortable Eye Contact
It’s shockingly easy for vehicle drivers to marginalize cyclists as a nuisance and forget the fact that “Oh yeah—this is a real person!” As such, make eye contact with those around you on the road. Let them know that you’re there and that you see them. It will let you know that those drivers know you are there, and the humanizing force of making eye contact will make it a little less likely that they intentionally put you at risk by engaging in dangerous driving behaviors.
Be Bright and Bold
Want people to notice you on the road? Make your presence known! Wear bright, bold colors and patters so that you stand out in your surroundings. Additionally, outfit your bike with plenty of lights so that you’re immediately visible in the dark or in inclement weather when visibility may be lower.
Check Those Brakes
Your brakes are probably the single most important safety feature on your bike, so make sure they are tuned and responsive before every ride. The ability to maneuver quickly and evasively, especially when riding near traffic, cannot be underestimated, so check you brakes before every ride you set out on.
Wear a Helmet Every. Single. Ride.
EVERY. SINGLE TIME. Yes—Houston gets hot. So what!? Sure, you might only be going to the grocery store around the corner but it doesn’t matter! Put a helmet on every time you get on your bike, and make sure that the helmet you’re wearing fits properly.
Assume That Others Are Idiots
Probably the best thing you can do on your bike is to assume that the motorists around you are not paying attention, do not see you, and will do the wrong thing at every turn. While you can’t keep drivers from making stupid mistakes, by riding defensively, you may be able to escape suffering any negative consequences as a result of their stupidity.
It doesn’t matter how defensively you ride or how safe you are when you get on your bike—the actions and inactions of motor vehicle drivers can and will lead to dangerous and deadly collisions that leave cyclists suffering the brunt of the damage. If you were injured on your bike in a collision with a motor vehicle, our team at Chenkin Law Firm is ready to uphold your rights and make sure that the party responsible for your needless suffering is held accountable. Call us today at (800) 721-7472 to learn more.