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Cyclists, Avoid Common Accidents This Summer

Cyclists, Avoid Common Accidents This Summer

Friday, July 8th, 2011

As gas prices climb, more people looking for ways to go green are embracing cycling as a sustainable way to travel. As the number of cyclists increases, however, so does the number of bicycle accidents. 51,000 cyclists in the United States were injured in 2009, up from 43,000 two years earlier. Fortunately, basic safety guidelines can help new and experienced cyclists alike avoid most kinds of accidents.

The majority of collisions between motorists and cyclists occur when a car pulls out of an intersection into the path of a bicycle. The vehicle either hits the side of the bike or stops suddenly so the bicycle hits the driver’s side of the car. By using a horn or a bell, or even yelling, when you see a car at an intersection ahead, you will grab the motorists’ attention. In addition, biking slowly across intersections can give you ample time to stop if necessary.

Only slightly less common are “dooring” collisions, which occur when a motorist opens his or her car door in the path of a cyclist. You can avoid these collisions by riding to the left in your lane, thereby avoiding the “door zone” so your path does not breeze past opening car doors.

Sometimes a driver makes a right turn into the path of a cyclist, whether they’re attempting to pass on the left or just don’t see the bicycle. This illustrates why cyclists should always avoid passing cars on the right.

While many cyclists fear a rear-end collision, a car hitting a bicycle from behind is rare. These crashes usually happen at night when visibility is poor, so avoid them by using lights or reflectors and signaling before changing lanes.

Several rules of thumb are important to keep in mind, in order to improve all cyclists’ overall safety and decrease the risk of injury:

  • Use lights or reflectors when appropriate to make yourself visible.
  • Avoid streets with heavy, fast traffic, which makes it difficult for drivers to see and avoid you.
  • Turn off portable music players and phones to prevent distraction.
  • Bike assertively (but carefully) to command motorists’ attention. Deferential cycling invites drivers to pass you too closely and quickly or disregard your right to the road.

These techniques can help cyclists prevent accidents, but even the most vigilant cyclist is vulnerable to other motorists’ reckless driving. If you are injured in an accident, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your case.
Category: Car Accidents
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