A bicycle is a great vehicle to have, because it helps you move from one place to another without using any fuel. The fuel is really your own effort and the collateral benefit is the exercise you get.
There are some revealing statistics about bicycle riding that should open your eyes to the safety factor. In 2018, 306,892 bicyclists made nonfatal emergency department visits, while 682 bicyclists were fatally injured in crashes (accidents).
There were many causes for the crashes involving bicycles in 2017, as per this report. These included speeding, poor compliance with traffic laws, poor separation, crossing locations, invisibility, impairment and distraction. Bicycle accidents are sadly very common, and are also a common reason for lawsuits.
Based on these reports, here are 6 tips to reduce the risk of accidents when you’re bicycling.
1. Comply With Traffic Rules
You must comply with traffic rules. You have the same rights as a car driver and therefore you have the duty to follow traffic rules. To follow traffic rules you must know what they are. So, get hold of the traffic laws in your state and ensure you follow them faithfully.
When you are on a bicycle your visibility to other road users, including pedestrians, is much less than other larger and speedier vehicles. Therefore, you must improve your visibility so that others can see you easily. You can increase visibility by wearing bright clothes and a bright helmet during the day. For increased visibility during the night, you should wear reflective clothing, adequate head and rear lights, and reflectors on your bicycle.
You have to concentrate on your riding. Don’t use your mobile phone while riding. If you do so, you are likely to get distracted and crash. Remember, you don’t need to crash with another vehicle. You could lose your balance and injure yourself by hitting the curb or sidewalk or your own bicycle. If you must speak, do so after stopping in a safe place. Likewise, do not wear your earphones and start listening to music or news. This is also a distraction.
If you are injured, don’t ride your bicycle, as it can impair you to ride safely. Similarly, don’t ride a bicycle if you are drunk. Alcohol also impairs your ability to ride safely. Remember, you are like other road users and you have a responsibility to follow all traffic rules, because the road is a public place that you share with others.
5. Maintain Your Bicycle
Your bicycle should be maintained well. Ensure there are no loose ends on the bicycle. Check the brakes, lights, reflectors, chain, bell and handle periodically to see that they are all right. Ensure there is sufficient air in the tires and the treads are not worn out. This is important for balance and stability and braking. It is important that you ride a bike that is compatible with your size and weight.
6. Ride Safely
As mentioned earlier, you are sharing the road with others. You have to be careful, as you will be riding with drivers of all types of vehicles and also encounter pedestrians. You should be fully aware of your surroundings when you ride. Here are safety issues you must concentrate on:
- Ride on sidewalks if permitted, otherwise ride on the extreme right of the road with traffic
- Watch out for pedestrians and vehicles coming out of homes when you ride on the sidewalk
- Be extra careful when you are crossing the road, watch out for other vehicles
- Give proper signals and carry on as signaled, don’t signal one thing and do another
- Dress comfortably and visibly (bright or reflective clothing) and safely (helmet)
- Follow all traffic rules, learn to be patient and yield, and don’t confront
- Don’t be distracted by extraneous things while riding
- Be alert and aware of things that may affect your safety
- Don’t ride after consuming alcohol
These tips are by no means exhaustive. You can follow any other tips that are relevant to your riding and safety. Remember, your safety is definitely in your hands and you have a responsibility for other road users’ safety as well. You can discharge your responsibility by following the tips given above. By riding safely, you will reduce the risk of accidents.