Williams, Walsh & O'Connor, LLC

Bicycle commuters and recreational riders: Stay safe with 6 tips

As a bicyclist, it's fun to travel to and from work or run errands without using a motor vehicle. Of course, bikes are also great when the purpose of the ride is just fun or fitness.

Whether you're new to cycling or you have decades of experience, your safety on the road should always come first. Any accident, especially one in which you are struck by a motor vehicle, has the potential to cause serious injury or death.

Preventing accidents

It's easy to forget or disregard the fundamentals. Here are six essential safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Follow the rules of the road: Just like drivers of motor vehicles, you should follow the rules of the road at all times. By doing so, you greatly reduce your potential for being involved in an accident. This includes obeying stop signs and clearly signaling your turns.
  2. Watch for opening doors: This is particularly important if you spend your time cycling in the city, as there will always be cars parked next to your route. If someone opens a door into your path, you may not have time to move out of the way.
  3. Beware of turning vehicles: If a driver is making a right turn, he or she could cross into your lane of travel. Drivers making left turns without a signal (or without looking ahead) can cause great harm, too. If you're not alert, you could be struck. To protect against this hazard, take great caution as you enter intersections at which a driver may turn.
  4. Don't spook pedestrians: A good way to prevent accidents with reactive walkers or joggers is to pass behind them with adequate room (and sometimes a verbal heads-up), as opposed to in front of them.
  5. Use the bicycle lane: When a bike lane is available to you, take advantage of it. A bicycle lane is the safest place to ride, especially when compared to traveling on a sidewalk or in the road.
  6. Wear a helmet: Head protection can, quite literally, mean the difference between being shaken up and sustaining a life-changing brain injury. Use a properly-fitted helmet.

If you ARE injured on a bike

Even when you follow these fundamentals, there's a chance you could be part of an accident with a motor vehicle. If you are hurt, your injuries will probably require immediate medical attention. Call 911 (or ask a witness to do so) and stay where you are until help arrives.

Once you receive treatment and understand your injuries, you can obtain the advice of an attorney. If you suspect that the driver was negligent, you'll want to learn about your legal rights and determine how to hold that person accountable.

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