May is National Bicycle Safety Month, which means that the California Highway Patrol is issuing its annual reminder to the public that they need to “share the road.”
Let’s hope that everyone gets the message. Even though bicycling and walking are more popular than ever (being both earth-conscious and health-conscious modes of travel), they’re often unwelcome sights to motor vehicle drivers.
CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley issued a neutral statement that avoided casting blame for traffic accidents and deaths on anyone in particular, saying, “In this uncertain time, more people are out on the streets biking for exercise, recreation, mental health, and affordable transportation. Bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists must stay alert to keep everyone safe.” However, the sobering reality is that anytime a bicyclist or pedestrian ends up in an accident with a car or a truck, you can bet the person the bike or on foot is the one who gets hurt the most.
It is worth reminding all bicyclists that there are a few things that they can do to protect themselves from danger on the road:
- Wear a helmet. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), it reduces your chances of a head injury by 60%. Plus, it’s the law in California for anyone under 18 years of age.
- Ride on the right. Bicyclists are encouraged to ride with traffic, as close to the curb as possible, whenever they can’t use a sidewalk, bike path or park.
- Use your signals. Right-of-way violations aren’t totally preventable since you can’t force everyone to follow the rules, but you can reduce your odds of an accident by signaling your intention to turn and stopping when required at intersections.
Even so, you may still encounter an aggressive driver who seems to resent your presence on the road or a negligent driver who opens a car door right in your path. Or, you may simply encounter a bad driver. If you’re injured as a result, make sure that you find out more about the compensation that you may be due for your losses.