The basic car versus bike collision has the same loser every time: the cyclist. As an avid cyclist myself, many cyclists who have been injured call on my firm to help them after such an incident. We have handled dozens of collision injury cases where a car has run into a cyclist and have developed a unique base of knowledge applicable to such claims. The unquestionable reality, however, is that the BEST thing is to avoid an injury and to never need our services. To help folks make smart decisions, we have adapted the Ten Safety Tips for Cyclists from David Zabriske’s Yield to Life for Idaho riders.
1. Cycling Citizenship: The right to ride on the road comes with responsibilities. Learn Idaho traffic laws and rules. Motorists will be more willing to accept cyclists’ rightful place on the road when cyclists ride lawfully, respectfully and responsibly.
STOP at red lights,
YIELD at all stop signs. DON’T proceed unless its safe AND you have the right of way.
DON’T ride against traffic on the wrong side of the street.
STAY as far right at practical
ONLY if you are not impeding “the normal and reasonable movement of traffic” is it legal and safe to ride two abreast. On narrow curvy roads it is always best to ride single file.
Riding responsibly will ease tensions, and foster a more harmonious environment between motorists and cyclists.
2. Ride Right: It is illegal to ride towards oncoming traffic. Ride with traffic, staying as far to the right as is practical. Be sure to wait for a safe opportunity to change lanes and use proper hand signals.
3. Join In: Joining the other traffic is sometimes necessary because the road is simply too narrow for both a bike and a car. This is called “taking the lane” by many cycling advocates. When you do join the traffic, make sure you never pass on the right. By waiting directly behind a vehicle, you can see a car’s signals; otherwise, you never know if the motorist is about to make a right turn and hit you.
4. Protect Your Head: Whether going to the corner store or heading out on a marathon ride, always wear a helmet.
5. See Eye to Eye: Make eye contract with drivers whenever possible, this ensures that the motorists see you. This “personal connection” also helps motorists remember you are a human being deserving of attention, protection and respect.
6. Travel a Straight Road: Ride consistently and predictably. At an intersection, do not veer into the crosswalk and then suddenly reappear on the road again. Don’t thread through parked cars. Riding erratically puts you at danger and scares drivers.
7. Play Defense: Be aware of your surroundings. Know what is behind you and watch out for what is in front of you, Be on the lookout for road hazards; sand and gravel, glass, railroad tracks, and the like. Watch for parked cars where people may be opening doors on the driver side of the vehicle without looking. Make sure you have ample time to make any move, whether you are changing a lane or turning a corner. Do not expect to be granted the right of way in any instance.
8. Be Visible: Make your presence felt. Wear bright colored clothing. At night or in bad weather, use reflective lights–front, side and rear to make yourself visible.
9. Be prepared: Emergencies happen. Keep a hand on your handlebars. Know and use your hand signals whenever you are changing lanes or making a turn.
10. Brake Away: Make sure your brakes are always in top-notch condition. Be aware of how weather and road conditions can affect your ability to brake.