How Can I Avoid a Bicycle Accident?
How Can I Avoid a Bicycle Accident?
Bicycle accidents can be divided into two broad categories – bicycle falls and crashes with other motor vehicles. While bicycle falls are common and less fatal, the latter tends to be more serious, leading to major injuries and even deaths.
However, irrespective of the severity of different bicycle accidents, you should be prepared and take precautions every time you are on the bicycle. You may have heard the usual bicycle safety guidelines ever since you got your first bike – wear your helmet, stay on your lane, obey traffic laws, etc. And yes! These rules are extremely important to keep you out of danger.
But today, we’ll get deeper and explore the bicycle safety world a bit more and learn how to avoid bicycle accidents. This article will take you through some of the most common bike accidental scenarios and the steps you can take to avoid them.
Common Bicycle Accidents
Crashing with other motor vehicles:
This is one of the most common causes of bike accidents. It leads to serious injuries and also deaths. In a report made by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, over 3000 cyclist deaths were reported between 2008 and 2012. Also, in a 2017 study, it was stated that about 75% of bicycle deaths take place in urban areas as compared to rural areas.
Bicycle crashes with cars involve multiple reasons like careless driving, rushed driving, poor traffic rules, etc. However, one of the primary causes of fatal bicycle accidents is the indulgence of alcohol. In a certain 2017 report, about 37% of bicycle crashes were found to involve alcohol.
Bicycle accidents while crossing:
This is another fatal cause related to car hits. But among all cases of car and bicycle accidents, cars hitting a cyclist crossing their paths are common scenarios in particular. This type of crashes mostly happens when the driver is not paying attention. After the crash has occurred, drivers usually end up confessing that they didn’t see the bicyclist coming. Thus, resulting in a crash.
About 40% of cases (where cars run into a bicycle) occurs when a car hits the rear end of the bicycle. Also, 11% of the same accidents happen when a car runs into a bicycle crossing the road.
Other than cars running into bicycles, human carelessness is another major cause of bicycle accidents. Both bicyclists and drivers tend to speed up on highways leading to unwanted accidents.
Another primary cause of bicycle accidents is distractions. In such a fast-paced world, most people are occupied and in a rush to get wherever they’re going. Also, while driving, most people multitask and are either talking over the phone or paying attention somewhere else and not on the road. Thus, all these reasons lead to crashes and accidents.
Also, other reasons such as driving or riding under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants, reckless driving, failure to follow traffic rules are some common causes of bicycle accidents.
Now that you know what you need to be aware of and what can lead to a bicycle accident let us discuss some important things you can do to avoid bicycle accidents.
Important Things you can do to avoid bicycle accidents:
Improve your riding skills before hitting the road:
If you’re not confident enough on your bicycle, you may get nervous when unexpected situations take place. Just imagine you’re riding your bicycle to work as usual, but one morning, an ambulance is speeding to the hospital on your lane. You hear loud sirens and endless horns. In such a situation, you’d have to think fast, act fast, and swiftly ride your bicycle to the side and make way for the ambulance. But if you’re not a skilled bicyclist, chances are, you may freeze and not know what to do.
Thus, riding a bicycle on busy streets, in traffic, or in small lanes requires a high level of experience. You don’t have to be the most skilled of the best bicyclists to ride a bicycle on the road. However, you do need some experience. And for this, you need to practice as much as you can and be prepared for any unfavorable situations before taking your bike on the road.
Ride with your head up:
A common mistake made by most bicyclists is they tend to put their heads down for a few seconds when they speed up. This is not a safe practice. No matter how well you know the route you’re riding on, you never know what could happen in a split second.
Or, when you ride for a longer period, you may want to put your head down just for a second. But, this could be dangerous. In that single brief second, an unexpected event can occur and may even cost you life. So, always make sure to keep your head up and your eyes focused on the road while riding. If you want to rest at all, you can always park somewhere safe and take a break for a while.
Give your directions well:
Make sure to equip your bike with loud horns or bells, headlights, and backlights. Always make sure to use these tools to alert people of your presence. Also, make use of hand signals (very important) whenever you are about to make a turn.
If your city provides separate bike lanes, always make sure to drive on that route alone.
Make yourself visible, especially at night:
Bicyclists often go unnoticed. Drivers on the road are so busy on the road, trying not to hit other motor vehicles that they often fail to pay attention to bicycles. Thus, it is very important to make yourself visible. During the day, this is not a big problem since you can wear bright clothes, use bike bells and horns, and you’re good to go.
However, safety issues are more during night time. Thus, if you plan on riding after sunset, make sure to wear reflective gears. Also, use reflectors on your bike. All these can increase your visibility on the road and help prevent bicycle accidents.
Focus and stay alert at all times:
Whenever you are riding your bike on the road, give your heart and soul to the road and your surrounding traffic. Never use headphones or listen to music while riding. Drive according to the flow of traffic.
Look ahead on the road to spot potholes, rocks, or any obstacle that may cause you harm. This way, you know what lies ahead and prepare yourself in advance to ride past the obstacles.
Don’t ride on sidewalks:
Sidewalk riding is extremely dangerous, not only for you but also for the pedestrians walking on the path. In fact, riding on sidewalks is even made illegal in some cities.
Sidewalk riding is common for most bike commuters, but it is best to avoid it. Why? Because riding on sidewalks has more risk of getting hit by a car. Though people already know sidewalks are dangerous, at one point or another, cars tend to drive in the sidewalks since they don’t expect any traffic there.
Also, sidewalks are close to where people park their cars. In case someone pulls out his car from the parking lot without seeing (or expecting) you, it can hit you. Thus, while riding a bicycle, it is best to avoid the sidewalks.
Riding a bicycle is one of the most thrilling and productive activities out there. It is fun and adventurous while it also helps you save a lot of time in traffic and keeps you fit.
However, on the other side, you cannot ignore the several dangerous situations you may come across while riding a bike (that is if you’re not careful). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported a total of 857 bicycle deaths in 2018 in the United States alone.
All the statistics, records, and researches only show that the road is not as safe for bicyclists. So, the only way to be safe on the road is by taking proper precautions. And also follow proper safety rules to avoid getting into bicycle accidents.
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