As a bicyclist, you know that you’re at risk of an accident every time you start to pedal. However, that doesn’t mean that you should be alone in protecting yourself. Drivers have many responsibilities, too.
For example, drivers are required by law to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. So, if you need to make your way from one side of the street to the next, do your best to find a crosswalk. This will go a long way in keeping you safe.
Here are some other things you can do to maintain your safety when cycling in close proximity to motor vehicles:
- Use the bicycle lane: If a designated lane is available, spend your time riding here. It’s much easier to feel confident and safe when you’re driving in a lane that is for bikes only.
- Use hand signals: When necessary, use hand signals to show drivers around you what you’re doing. Even if they don’t know what they mean, they’ll see your hands and realize that you’re able to do something.
- Make eye contact: When you make eye contact with a driver, such as when crossing the road, you know that they see you.
- Obey the rules of the road: For example, don’t speed through a stop sign or red light while motor vehicles are stopped and waiting their turn. Violating the rules of the road puts you at risk of an accident, while also angering drivers.
- Understand the conditions: Maybe it’s late at night, meaning that drivers don’t have as much visibility of what’s happening around them. Or maybe it’s foggy, once again limiting how far they can see. When you understand the conditions, you can take steps to protect yourself, such as by wearing reflectors and bright colored clothing.
To a certain degree, drivers are responsible for biker safety, as they need to follow the law and take notice of cyclists. Cyclists are also responsible for their own safety, however, and need to understand the risk for injuries that comes with cycling on roads.
If you’re injured in a car-bike accident, don’t attempt to “shake it off” and ride away from the scene. Stay where you are, assess your injuries and call for help. Once you receive treatment, it’s then time to focus on the cause of the crash and your legal rights.