Bicycling is a wonderful way to stay active, reduce your carbon footprint, and explore your surroundings. However, it’s essential to remember that safety should always be a top priority when riding a bicycle.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 961 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2021. To reduce accident risks while riding a bicycle, you need to be proactive and informed.
In this blog post, we will provide you with valuable tips and advice on how to stay safe while enjoying your ride.
Choose the Right Bicycle for You
Selecting the right bicycle for your body type, needs, and riding style is crucial.
- Make sure it’s the right fit—Ensure your bicycle is the right size for your body to maintain control and balance while riding.
- Choose the right bicycle type—If you plan on riding long distances on the road, choose a road bike. If you plan on riding off-road, choose a mountain bike. And if you plan on riding short distances around town, choose a cruiser bike.
- Maintain the bike—Regularly inspect your bike for loose parts, worn-out brakes, and properly inflated tires. A well-maintained bicycle is easier to control, reducing the risk of accidents.
Know the Rules of the Road
Bicyclists share the road with other vehicles, so it’s essential to be aware of traffic laws and follow them just as you would if you were driving a car.
- Obey traffic signals—Stop at red lights and obey stop signs. Signal your turns and stops with hand signals.
- Ride in the same direction as traffic—Always ride on the right side of the road, in the same direction as the flow of traffic. Riding against traffic is dangerous and increases the likelihood of collisions.
- Use bike lanes and paths—Whenever possible, use designated bike lanes or paths to separate yourself from motor vehicles.
- Be predictable—Maintain a straight line when riding, and avoid sudden swerves or unpredictable movements. This helps drivers anticipate your actions.
Stay Alert and Be Aware
When you ride a bicycle, you can’t accelerate or maneuver as quickly as people in vehicles. That means you can’t avoid potential accidents as easily. To stay safe, you need to remain intensely alert and aware of your surroundings the entire time you ride.
- Scan your surroundings—Continuously scan the road ahead and check your mirrors (if equipped on your bike) or look over your shoulder for approaching vehicles or pedestrians.
- Eliminate distractions— Avoid distractions like texting or listening to loud music while riding. Keep your full attention on the road.
- Maintain a safe distance— Keep a safe following distance from vehicles ahead of you to allow for sudden stops or changes in traffic.
Be Prepared for Different Road and Weather Conditions
Bicycling conditions can vary widely, and inclement weather and low visibility can make riding dangerous for even experienced and safety-conscious riders. Because of that, it’s essential to be ready to adapt to different road surfaces and environments.
- Wet weather—Rain can make roads slippery, so reduce your speed and increase your following distance. Equipping fenders on your bike can help prevent water from splashing onto you.
- Uneven terrain—Be cautious when cycling on uneven or rough terrain. Slow down and be prepared for obstacles like potholes or debris.
- Night riding—Equip your bicycle with front and rear lights, and wear reflective gear. Make yourself as visible as possible to motorists, especially when visibility is reduced.
Ride Safely Around All Types of Other Vehicles
Sharing the road with motor vehicles requires caution and assertiveness. It’s important that you make sure other drivers can see you and are aware of your presence while also signaling your intentions to them before making sudden movements.
- Make eye contact—When possible, make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you and acknowledge your presence.
- Use hand signals—Signal your intentions clearly with hand signals to indicate turns and stops.
- Avoid drivers’ blind spots—Stay out of drivers’ blind spots, especially on the right side of larger vehicles.
Learn Defensive Riding Techniques
It’s unfortunately all too common for bicyclists to get “bullied” on the road by inconsiderate drivers in cars, trucks, and SUVs. As a bicyclist, you must ride defensively to anticipate that other drivers may not drive considerately or even safely around you.
- Maintain a cushion of safety—Keep a buffer zone around your bike to give yourself time to react to unexpected situations.
- Be predictable—Make sure your actions are easy for drivers to anticipate. Avoid sudden swerves or movements.
- Stay vigilant at intersections—Intersections are common sites for accidents. Be extra cautious when crossing or turning at intersections, and always yield to oncoming traffic when required.
Contact Our Oklahoma Bicycle Accident Lawyers if You Get Injured While Riding
Cycling is not only a fun and healthy activity but also an eco-friendly mode of transportation. However, it comes with its share of risks, which can be significantly reduced by following safety guidelines and practicing defensive riding techniques.
If you or someone you love is injured while riding your bike in Oklahoma, know that the legal team at Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers is here to help. We’ll work hard to get your family the compensation you need for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact us today for a free consultation.