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Bicycles in Traffic: Surviving a Hostile Environment



As the warmer months approach, it becomes much more pleasant to get around via bicycle. Not only is the activity healthy for a person’s body, but it also is one of the greenest methods of transportation out there. Unfortunately, cyclists really put their physical well-being in the hands of motorists every time they head out on the road. This is why every bicycle rider should know a few things to keep themselves safe.

Cyclist Safety Measures

Bicycle safety starts before a person even heads out on the road. Though it would seem that everyone knows the importance of helmets, many cyclists still die every year when involved in accidents while not wearing one. Additionally, typical bicycle “horns” or bells just don’t seem sufficient when in traffic. Luckily, there are actually bicycle horns now available for purchase that sound exactly like car horns.

Visibility is also important. Cyclists who choose to ride at night should add reflectors to their bikes and wear reflective vests. On top of this, it’s also a good idea to purchase and install bicycle lights. For around $40, a rider can get a kit that includes both front and rear battery-powered lights.

Avoiding Dangers on the Road

The aforementioned safety gear can go a long way, but negligent motorists can still cause accidents that lead to serious injuries. Indianapolis personal injury lawyer Randy Sevenish reiterates the importance of helmets but recognizes that using a helmet will not totally protect cyclists. Cyclists are also highly susceptible to wrist sprains, fractures, lacerations, and soft tissue injuries from being thrown from their bikes.

When accidents do occur, cyclists should immediately seek medical attention and then get legal help. Like any other commuter, cyclists are entitled to compensation for injuries due to an accident. Victims may be able to collect for medical expenses, loss of income, pain, and suffering, and more.

The most important thing, however, is to try to avoid the need for medical and legal help in the first place. Some of the most common accidents occur when motorists pull out of side streets and strike a rider. Cyclists can lessen this chance by slowing down, riding further to the left, and even waving at the driver as they approach side streets.

Another common accident occurs when cyclists stop to the right of cars that are stopped. When it’s time to move forward, motorists often don’t see the cyclist and, if they turn right, can seriously injure their fellow commuter. This can be avoided by bikes if they are careful in staying out of a vehicle driver’s blind spot. Additionally, it’s a good idea to never pass to the right. Motorists don’t expect cyclists, so when they turn to the right, a tragedy can occur.

Cyclist Responsibilities

It’s also important to point out that cyclists have responsibilities too. After all, it’s not like they’re children playing on the sidewalk any longer. Every cyclist who uses the streets of America is bound by all of the same traffic laws that other commuters are. Obeying signs and stoplights, signaling turns, and maintaining one’s lane are all essential. The easiest way to remember cyclists’ rules is this: if a law applies to a motorist, it applies to the cyclist.

Anyone who uses bicycles as one of their main methods of transportation can attest to the fact that it’s more of a lifestyle than a mode of transportation. Even cyclists who have engaged in the activity for years, however, need to take proactive measures to stay safe. The most safety-conscious cyclist out there can still be injured if other motorists are negligent; when riding a bicycle, vigilance is key.