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Visibility Tips for Bicyclists to Avoid Accidents

Published September 8, 2015 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney
Bike accident

In theory, and legally, cyclists and motorists have equal rights to roadways. In practice, cyclists are a lot more vulnerable should an accident occur. In fact, cyclists account for a disproportionate one in 41 crash deaths each year. That’s why it’s important to take extreme care to avoid a collision. Most car-bicycle collisions happen as a result of a visibility problem. The following tips will help you ride more safely.

Staying Visible and Sharing the Road on Your Bicycle

  • Make yourself visible at night. Get a headlight for your bike, and wear reflective clothing so oncoming cars can better see you. You might also consider a bell, for both night and day, to warn drivers, pedestrians, and other cyclists of your presence.
  • Obey all traffic rules. This means obeying traffic signals and signs, and riding on the appropriate side of the road—not the sidewalk! If you ride on the sidewalk, you increase your chance of a collision when you cross an intersection, as drivers will not expect you to be on the crosswalk. You also risk colliding with a pedestrian.
  • Signal your turns. Point outwards with the left hand for left turns, and the right hand for right turns (or use the left arm in an upward L-shape). Failing to signal is especially risky when you make a left turn, as a driver might collide with you as you unexpectedly swing out into the middle of the lane.
  • Do your best to keep out of drivers’ blind spots. This is especially important while waiting at red lights. Either pull up just ahead of the car waiting next to you, or far enough behind so that the driver will be able to see you in the rearview mirror. Crashes involving cars and bicycles at stoplights are very common.
  • Where there are parked cars, watch out for the “door zone.” Ride far enough to the left of parked cars so if a door suddenly swings open, it won’t hit you.
  • Beware the “right hook.” This happens at intersections when a motorist makes a right turn in front of a cyclist heading in the same direction.
  • Wear a helmet. Of course, a helmet can’t prevent an accident, but it can reduce the risk of a serious head injury if an accident should occur. Without a helmet, you are more likely to suffer a concussion or more serious brain injury, potentially fatal or disabling.

How Bike Accidents Cause Serious Injuries

When a car strikes a cyclist, the consequences are far worse for the cyclist. As the cyclist hits the pavement, the friction between skin and road can cause road rash, which is painful and can lead to serious infections. Limbs may be broken when the cyclist hits the ground, especially hands, arms or collarbones. Worse still are head injuries, which can cause lifelong pain, reduced mental capacity, and degenerative disease. Leg and lower limb injuries occur when cars strike cyclists because of the different height of the two vehicles.

While it is the motorist’s responsibility to watch out for and share the road with cyclists, it’s important to take every precaution to keep yourself safe when riding a bike. If you have been in a bicycling accident, call our experienced Binghamton bike injury lawyer, Scott C. Gottlieb at once to discuss your legal options before it is too late.

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