Safety Tips for Preventing Bicycle Accidents
More and more people in Illinois are riding bicycles these days, whether for pleasure, for exercise, or to commute to work. Unfortunately, riding a bike on city streets continues to be potentially risky. In 2018, 349 people were seriously injured and 24 died in bicycle accidents in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. To do a better job of protecting vulnerable bicyclists on the road, both motorists and cyclists will have to take bike safety more seriously.Cyclist Safety Tips
As a cyclist, there are many things you can do to help ensure your safety on the road:
- The most important piece of advice is to wear a helmet. Studies have shown that those who wear helmets are significantly less likely to suffer serious head injuries when involved in an accident.
- Make sure your bicycle is the right size for you. Riding a bike that is too big or too small increases the danger.
- Be sure to regularly check that your bike is in proper working condition. Making sure that no nuts, bolts, or spokes are loose, that your tires are properly inflated, and that your brakes are working can significantly help to prevent an accident from occurring.
- Use a headlight, a rear light, a bicycle bell, and wear bright reflective clothing. You cannot underestimate how hard it is to for drivers see bicyclists especially in the evening and nighttime hours. Because of this and because bicycles are so quiet, it’s important to do everything you can to increase your visibility on the road.
- Drive predictably and use hand signals. This is essential for communicating with drivers and letting them know what you plan on doing next.
- Ride in the same direction as traffic and drive defensively. Some studies have shown that riding the wrong way is three times more dangerous than riding with the flow of traffic.
- Be careful to follow the rules of the road just like the cars around you. Too many cyclists go through lights when they are red or behave as if the rules of the road do not apply to them. This can put them in serious danger.
- Always be alert and aware of your surroundings to avoid an accident. Stay off of your phone, and don’t ride with headphones in. For the most part, it is your responsibility to avoid danger and stay safe.
- Avoid risky behavior while biking. Don’t go too fast and don’t ride while intoxicated. Both increase your chances of getting in an accident.
- Slow down and look for traffic when crossing a street or driveway. Too often the drivers of cars are not looking for bicycles.
- Plan out your routes when you can. If you plan ahead you can avoid busy intersections, ensure that your route will take you on roads that have bike paths available, and make sure your route is on roads that have good visibility and aren’t too narrow.
Following these tips will go a long way towards keeping you safe. Even though this seems like a lot of work, especially for those who think of cycling as a relaxing hobby, every step is worth it when it comes to your safety. Of course, no matter how many preventive measures cyclists take, the responsibility for their safety also rests on the people who operate motor vehicles.Motorist Safety Tips
As a driver, there are also ways that you can help to keep cyclists safe:
- Always be alert and aware of your surroundings when you drive. Look around for other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists when turning, backing up, and going through intersections. Driving is an isolating experience that can make you feel as if there is no one around. It’s important to remember that you are sharing the road. And since bicycles are so much smaller than other cars; you have to really be on the lookout for them.
- Always drive distraction-free. Put your phone away, don’t eat, don’t do your makeup, don’t do anything that causes you to take your eyes or mind off of the road or your hands off the wheel. A few seconds could be the difference between a safe drive and a serious accident.
- Yield to bicyclists like motorists and don’t underestimate how fast they are traveling.
- Expect cyclists on the road and remember that they have a right to be there. Give them a wide berth and slow down when you are driving near them. Some drivers resent cyclists for “being in the way” and don’t think bicycles should be on the road. These drivers don’t believe they have any responsibility for keeping cyclists safe. This could not be further from the truth. All drivers should: 1) remember that bicyclists have a right to be there, 2) respect their space, and 3) do everything possible to keep them safe.
If all of us on the road follow these tips, we can prevent bike accidents from happening, and hopefully, reduce the seriousness of the accidents that do happen. With that being said, if you or a loved one has been injured in a bike accident due to a motorist’s negligence, we can help. Our top-rated, knowledgeable, bicycle accident lawyers can build your case for you and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us at (630) 527-1595 or fill out our contact form for a FREE consultation with one of our bike accident attorneys today.
For more information, see our Naperville Bicycle Accident Attorneys page.