With the on and off rainy weather we’ve been having, we all want to take advantage of those few beautiful sunny days by going outside. The better the weather, the more people there are getting back out in the bike lanes.
According to the DMV, more than 100 people are killed every year in bicycle accidents in California alone (and thousands more are injured). Riding your bike can be an excellent form of exercise and a fantastic way to relieve stress, but before your feet hit those pedals, you should be doing everything you can to make sure you don’t become a part of that statistic.
Wear a Helmet:
By law, anyone under the age of 18 riding a bike must be wearing a helmet. Even if you’re over 18, it’s important to be riding your bike on a main road with a helmet. Sure, wearing a helmet messes up your hair, but it also protects your brain. Don’t you want to do whatever you can to keep your brain safe?
It’s also not enough to just be wearing a helmet in general, you need to make sure it fits correctly. The goal is for the helmet to be snug, level, and stable. Unfortunately, heads come in many shapes and sizes, so make sure you try the helmet on at the store and take the extra time to adjust the fit pads and straps accordingly.
Bike accidents are often not the bicyclist’s fault — many are caused by drivers who just don’t see them.
Wear brightly colored clothing (maybe buy a brightly colored helmet). Bright yellow and lime green are the most visible color choices. Contrary to what you would think, you should avoid red clothing as it looks black from a distance in fading light.
If you’re planning to ride at night, by law you must have lights and reflectors on your bike. Here is the list of equipment that the DMV requires for riding in the dark:
- A front light emitting white light from a distance of 300 ft.
- A rear red reflector visible from a distance of 500 ft.
- A white or yellow reflector on each pedal or on the bicyclist’s shoes or ankles visible from a distance of 200 ft.
- A break which will enable the bicyclist to make a one brake wheel stop on dry, clean, level pavement.
Ride with traffic and be aware of what the cars are doing around you. Riding in the same direction as traffic will make you more visible to the drivers on the road. Ride as far to the right of the road as you can without hitting the curb.
If a car passes you, stay behind them and be prepared to slow down if they make a sudden right turn. Also, watch out for cars in the far lane making left turns in front of you.
Keep your distance from parked cars to avoid crashing into an opening car door.
Use the Bike Lane:
Whenever possible, stay in the bike lane. The average bicyclist only travels at about 10 miles per hour (up to 18 miles per hour on flat land), which is much slower than most cars are driving on main roads. Do what you can to make sure cars can safely pass you at all times.
Obey the Traffic Laws:
Bicyclists must stop for red lights. It is highly recommended that they stop for yellow lights as well, as there usually isn’t time for them to rush through the intersection before the light changes. Keep in mind that traffic lights are timed for car speeds, not bike speeds.
We hope you’ll stay safe and enjoy the sunny weather!
Have a serious injury and need legal advice? Contact Howard Blau.
How fast does the average person ride a bike? (2017). Retrieved January 17, 2017 from https://www.reference.com/sports-active-lifestyle/fast-average-person-ride-bike-cf053029272716e0
How to Fit a Bicycle Helmet (2017). Retrieved January 17, 2017 from http://www.bhsi.org/fit.htm
Sharing the Road (FFDL 37) Safety Tips for Bicyclists and Motorists (2012). Retrieved January 17, 2017 from https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffdl37