May 9th, 2016
No doubt about it, biking is an increasingly popular way to get around in WNY. The benefits of cycling are obvious when you consider the effect on local health, fitness, and reduction of motor traffic and pollution, but with this increase in cycling also comes a period of adjustment as motorists learn to share the road and respect new bike paths.
In general over the past 20 years, cycling has actually become safer, and injuries and fatalities for cyclists have decreased. Despite this progress, the trend can easily reverse itself if both cyclists and drivers aren't careful and respectful of each other. Here are 5 quick tips for cyclists to stay safe on the roads and avoid accidents.
1. Wear a helmet.
Obviously. Head injuries are among the most serious you can sustain in any situation, so protecting your head while biking is a no-brainer. Bad pun not intended. If you're ever unfortunate enough to get in an accident on your bike, you'll be thankful you decided to wear your helmet.
2. Be visible.
This one applies to night riding as well as cycling during the day. Even if it's bright and sunny out, you might not be as visible as you think. Be aware of parked cars, trees, buildings, or other hindrances to visibility that might prevent drivers from seeing you. If you're riding at night, get a headlight, wear reflective clothing, and do everything in your power to assure that drivers can see you.
3. Ride like a car.
Following traffic laws and patterns as though you were a car is an important part of staying safe on the road. If you want to share the same space that drivers use, you need to obey the same laws and hold yourself to the same standards. Stop for stop signs and red lights, stay in your lane, use proper turn signals, and go with the flow.
4. Don't text and ride.
It's just as dangerous and a bike as it is behind the wheel of a car. Testing while cycling is distracting and takes your attention away from what you should be watching. Stay safe and keep your phone in your pocket until it's safe to text back.
5. Check and maintain your bike.
If the brakes on your car needed to be replaced, you wouldn't hesitate to get them taken care of. The same should apply to your bike. Keep careful tabs on the state of your ride and make sure everything is working properly before you take it out on the road. The last place you'd want to realize that your brakes don't work is as you're heading toward an intersection. A little work up front can save you from serious injury later.
Following these quick tips should help keep you safe out there, but if you ever are in a bicycle accident, we're here to help. Cyclists have rights to the road just like motor vehicles, and we can provide you with the representation you deserve for your case.