During the summer, many people may decide to take advantage of warm weather and ride bikes for outdoor exercise or to save gas. Whether you’re riding your bike or driving on roads others use to bike, there are some basic safety rules everyone should know.
To avoid bicycle accidents, here are some tips that may come in handy for drivers.
1. Share the Road
Although being stuck behind a cyclist may be irritating for a driver, it is advisable to share the road to prevent accidents. Cars have many safety features to protect passengers in an accident but bikes offer no protection so cyclists have a higher chance of being injured or killed.
As a motorist, you have a responsibility to watch for cyclists riding nearby. Only pass a cyclist when it’s safe. Ensure they have space to navigate around potholes or objects in the road. You can also slow down to ensure bikes have plenty of room.
2. Use Turn Signals
Drivers should always use their turn signals. This alerts others that your car will be changing direction. If a cyclist is on the road behind you when you make a right turn, they may continue to ride forward and crash into your car if you don’t signal.
When you make left turns, signal and watch for oncoming cyclists. Allow them to cross the intersection before you turn. They may not be able to stop if your paths cross suddenly.
3. Look Before Opening Your Door
Sometimes you’re sitting in traffic and realize your door is slightly ajar. You might want to open it to close it properly. Or you may have parked on the side of the road and you’re ready to exit your vehicle. In either case, practice caution before opening your car door.
As a cyclist may ride in the bike lane or on the road, a motorist may accidentally open their car door in a cyclist’s path. The resulting mishap could cause serious injuries. Always take a look around before you open your car door because cyclists have no way to know your intentions.
4. If You Hit a Cyclist With Your Car, What Should You Do?
If you accidentally hit a cyclist, check whether they have been injured. In extreme cases, you should call an ambulance. For a minor accident, move the automobile away from traffic and contact the police immediately.
Document everything and take notes about any damage that has taken place. Take pictures of the scene if you have a camera available.
Also, take notes about each individual involved in the accident. You may be tempted to apologize; however, it doesn’t mean you should admit fault for the accident.
5. Ensure You Have the Right Coverage for Bicycle Accidents
The auto insurance policies offer different types of coverage, including bodily injury liability, which applies to injuries that the driver has caused to someone else. If you are the one at fault for an accident and someone is injured, the insurance payout will apply to their medical bills.
It is advisable to acquire a state-required minimum insurance policy. When you’re involved in an accident, you can be sued, which may mean you have additional out-of-pocket expenses.
Invest in an umbrella insurance policy that provides excess liability coverage on top of what is covered in the usual policies. The policy is usually activated once you exceed your policy’s limits, which means you’re protected if a lawsuit is filed against you for damages in a bicycle accident claim.
Bicycle Accident Tips for Cyclists
In addition to knowing how to safely drive near cyclists, it’s also important to know how to safely ride near traffic. If you often leave your car at home and cycle around a busy city, these tips will help keep you safe.
1. Always Wear a Helmet
The importance of wearing a bike helmet cannot be overstated. Make sure the helmet fits properly before you wear it. If you’re unsure about your helmet size, your local bike shop can help you determine the proper size.
2. Your Bike Should Fit Properly
As with your helmet, the bicycle should fit you. As you stand over the bicycle, there should be a distance of at least two inches between the top of the tube and the rider for road bikes. The seat should also be well leveled.
3. The Bike Should Be Well Maintained
The brakes and tire pressure should be checked regularly. An annual cleaning and tune up should ensure your bike is road worthy.
4. Wear Protective Gear
Dress for the weather. Riding your bike may feel colder than if you were walking so a light windbreaker may be worn even in warmer months. You can wear bike gloves to improve your grip on the handlebars.
Even though your bike is probably equipped with reflectors, you should also wear bright or reflective clothing while cycling. Anything you can do to improve visibility will reduce your chances of being in an accident.
5. Ride Predictably
Ensure you’re riding in a straight line and don’t try to weave in and out of vehicles on the road. Just as drivers should use turn signals, you should signal your moves to others as you adhere to the traffic rules. You can check your local city or village website for additional information about biking laws in your area.