As road cycling becomes increasingly more popular, state and federal travel departments are urging drivers to share the road.
Even if motorists practice safety precautions, you should be on alert at all times while cycling in the same lanes as them. If something happens, you're at a major disadvantage.
Here are five safety tips you can follow to minimize the risk of getting in an accident.
1. Protect your body
You should always wear a helmet while riding a bike but especially when you're on the road. This may seem like common knowledge, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that less than half of Americans wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
Other ways to protect yourself include wearing elbow and knee padding. Also, wear long sleeves and pants to avoid road rash if you end up getting knocked off your bike.
2. Go with the flow
Always cycle in the direction of traffic. Although going against the flow may give you more visibility of what's coming in your direction, it can confuse motorists and create a dangerous environment.
Going with the flow is especially important if you come across a roundabout or other intersection. In these situations, drivers tend not to look in all directions before entering.
3. Leave distractions at home
If you're going on a long ride, you may be tempted to bring your MP3 player along to keep you company. Doing this makes it difficult to hear the traffic around you. If you insist on using it, listen without headphones, or wear only one ear bud. You should also avoid taking calls while riding or any other kind of distraction that could keep you from riding defensively.
4. Ride defensively
At all times, act like drivers and others on the road can't see you. Avoid riding in unpredictable patterns, and keep an eye on the cars around you, anticipating their next move. Obey the street signs as if you were driving a vehicle. Also, keep an eye on the road to avoid riding over hazards, including potholes, grates, train tracks and debris.
If you ride at night, attach a bright light to your bike and wear reflective gear. The more visible you are, the better. Also, use proper hand signals to make motorists aware of your intentions.
5. Keep your bike in top condition
Even if you're doing your best to stay safe among others on the road, you could end up in danger if you don't keep your bike properly maintained. Check your brakes before each ride to make sure they're responding well. Check the wheels to ensure the tires are properly inflated and quick-release levers are secured.
Double-check the bicycle seat is in a comfortable position and your chain is oiled. If you're having problems switching gears, get the chain fixed right away.
The bottom line
When you're out on the road cycling, your top priority should be your safety. While you may assume others are looking out for you the same way you would look out for cyclists when you're driving, that likely isn't the case.
Despite your best efforts, accidents can happen, and victims need an attorney they can trust. The attorneys at Ed Bernstein & Associates have more than 40 years experience in personal injury law and understand its finer nuances. Visit edbernstein.com or call 702-240-0000 to find out how to get started on the road to recovery.