Just like how it takes practice to master any skill, like driving, riding a bicycle safely also takes practice. Riding your bike with traffic can certainly be intimidating, but with practice you can become comfortable doing it. If you're comfortable enough to share the road while on your bicycle, our bicycle accident attorneys offer the following statistics and safety tips to help you stay safe.
In the past decade, the number of Americans on bicycles sharing the roads with other vehicles has increased. And as more cyclists are seen on the roads, the likelihood of an unfortunate bicycle accident also increases. In 2018, 857 bicyclists were killed in traffic fatalities across the United States, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This is a 6% increase from 2017. Florida took the top spot in 2017 for the most bicycle deaths in any state - 125 deaths to be exact.
Riding your bike with traffic can certainly be intimidating, but with practice you can become comfortable doing it. The best way to start out is to practice in a place away from traffic, such as an empty parking lot, a park or even a bike path.
Another great way to prepare for riding with other cars, pedestrians, and bikers is to take a class. On-bike classes are usually offered through schools, recreation departments, and local bike shops. You can gain confidence and learn important skills about cycling as well as communication patterns with pedestrians, motorists, and other cyclists in these classes.
You need to make sure your bike is in good working condition before taking it to the street. It won’t matter how good of a cyclist you are if your brakes don’t work. You also want to make sure your bike fits your body because if it is too large it will be much harder to control it. Another good tip is to wear protective equipment and clothing to make you safer and more visible to others, such as a helmet, bright colored clothes during the day, reflective gear, and if riding at night, you will want reflectors on your bike as well as a front light that is white in color and a rear light that is red in color.
If you have anything you need to carry with you, like a work bag or gym bag, make sure all items are carried in a backpack or strapped onto the back of your bike. While this may seem like a no-brainer, you want to ride with both hands on your bike handlebars at all times, unless you are signalling others that you plan to turn. Also, plan your route ahead of time so that you can map out a path that has less traffic and slower speeds - sometimes the safest path is one that is free of traffic, like in a bike lane or bike path. Lastly, tie your shoe laces and tuck them and your pant legs to avoid getting them caught in your bike chain.
For your own protection, it is best to be a predictable biker. This allows motorists to see your biking patterns to be able to predict your next move and avoid a crash. You should always bike where you are expected to be seen and always look ahead and over your shoulder before you signal to turn or change lanes. You always want to ride in the same direction as the cars on the road. Sidewalk riding is not encouraged for safety reasons for the simple fact that they can end unexpectedly and force you to maneuver your bike onto the road where a car may be travelling and not expecting a cyclist. However, there are definitely scenarios that require bikers to be on the sidewalk, so remember the following:
No matter how safely you ride your bicycle, you can't control the actions of others. If you suffer an accident, contact our Villages bicycle accident attorneys today.
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