You can expect to see more people riding bicycles through your local neighborhood and urban streets as the weather heats up. People are more likely to ride a bicycle when the weather is warm than they are in the cold temperatures of fall and winter.
Besides warmer weather, more and more people are using bicycles to travel around town because of their cost and accessibility. If you live in a larger city you may have even seen some of the bikes (bikeshares) that can be used by anyone with a few dollars and a corresponding app on their phone. They are everywhere in Charlotte! It’s important to keep in mind that bicycle accidents can be very serious and that because of the limited protection that a bicyclist may have, their injuries can be catastrophic.
People don’t leave their homes with the intention of being in or causing any type of accident. That is why they are called “accidents.” Unfortunately, thousands of accidents happen every day across the Carolinas. Even though they may not be intentional, many are avoidable.
Focused drivers that are mindful of traffic laws and aware of their surroundings travel with fewer chances of causing an accident. Be one of those drivers! Here are some summer bicycle safety tips for both cyclists and drivers.
Staying Safe on Your Bike
- Safety Equipment
Any person riding a bicycle should be wearing a helmet. It is even a safer to wear elbow and knee pads. Very few people go to the extent of utilizing all of the safety equipment that they should! Studies have shown that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a traumatic brain injury by as much as 88 percent. With a helmet and pads you may not walk away from an accident unscathed, but you are significantly increasing your odds of surviving a car versus bicycle accident scenario.
- Riding on the Street or Sidewalk
Many people believe that it is safer to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk and don’t understand why some areas make it illegal to do so. Their theory is that it is safer to ride on the street with vehicles because drivers don’t pay as much attention to what is on the sidewalk as they do to what is on the road. Others argue that riding away from the road is safer. Either way, you should always follow your local traffic laws and know when it is appropriate to your bike on the sidewalk as opposed to riding on the street.
- Ride with Traffic
When you were young, the adults in your life may have told you to ride against traffic so you could see what was coming at you. It makes sense, but isn’t the right way to ride a bike. You should ride with traffic for the greatest amount of safety. In many cities it’s actually the law.
- Stay Alert
It’s tempting to pop in your ear buds and pedal out of your driveway but you are putting yourself in danger. You shouldn’t have anything in your ears or attached to your handle bars that could distract you from what is going on around you. Keep your focus on the road ahead and don’t let your tunes distract you.
- Be Predictable
A good safety tip that not everyone mentions is this: Be predictable. Don’t swerve in and out of traffic, be sure to signal your turns and don’t break suddenly if you don’t have to. A vehicle driver doesn’t expect you to make sudden maneuvers and may not be able to react to you with enough time to prevent.
Safety Tips for Drivers
Sharing the road with bicyclists is annoying to some drivers but the reality is that bicyclists have the same right to be on the road as others. Here are some things you can do as a driver to prevent colliding with a bicycle.
- Pay Attention
Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents across the country. While you may notice a vehicle out of the corner of your eye while you are paying attention to something else, you are less likely to see a bicycle. Stay focused and attentive when you are behind the wheel.
Too many accidents (especially those involving bicycles) could have been prevented with the simple act of letting someone go, or yielding. There are specific rules that govern right of ways and when to yield. Besides failing to yield because of negligence, there are times when letting the other person go may not just be the friendly or lawful thing to do, it also may be the safest option. Always use your best judgment but if you can prevent an accident why not?
- Watch Your Door
Take a look over your left shoulder before you open a car door if you park on the street. There are hundreds of bicycle riders injured each year because they run into a car door that opened unexpectedly. It’s a simple and quick thing to do to check your blind spot before you open your door into the street.
- Keep the Radio Down
If you are the type of driver who loves to turn up the volume and rock out, reconsider your habits. There is no way you will be able to hear a cyclist yell for your attention if your radio is at full volume. Stay focused!
- Be Careful At Corners
Keep a watchful eye on corners and near alleyway, driveways and road obstructions. A cyclist could dart out from any one of these places before you know it. If you can’t see behind what is ahead of you, slow down a bit before you pass it.
No one wants to be involved in a bicycle versus car or truck collision. If it happens to you and you suffer an injury, you may have the right to compensation. After a bicycle accident in Charlotte, North Carolina or elsewhere, reach out to our team to learn more about your legal rights! Our consultations are free and it will never cost you any money to see if we can help you.