Cycling is an inexpensive way to get around, and an environmentally-friendly alternative to driving a car. Many cyclists enjoy riding a bike as both a means of exercise and an easy transportation method that doesn’t require gas or insurance.
However, thanks to the increasing number of drivers and cyclists on the roads, accidents between bikes and cars are becoming more and more common. For riders, a cycling traffic collision can have major consequences—both mentally and physically—so precautions must be taken to reduce the risks and stay safe while riding. It’s essential you educate yourself with information that may help you prevent accidents.
Here Are Seven Tips To Help You Avoid Cycling Traffic Collisions:
1. Avoid Distractions
The number one way to prevent collisions as a cyclist, is to avoid distractions. No matter how tempting it may be to check your phone or answer a call, taking your eyes off the road is a dangerous habit to get into. The ability to tune out distractions and stay focused while cycling, whether on a side street or main road, is a potentially life-saving skill.
2. Stay In The Bike Lane
Roads should be big enough to accommodate all kinds of people, from drivers to cyclists. Major arterials tend to have separate lanes for cars, trucks, and cyclists, with separate pedestrian paths. These lanes separate the road and aim to keep each user safe, but they’re not foolproof. Cyclists in particular must take care as they aren’t protected inside a vehicle like other drivers.
When cycling, you should always ride in the bicycle lane, and stay away from other vehicles as much as possible. In a situation where the road’s not designed to indicate a particular lane for cyclists, you should always keep to the right side of the road. In doing so, you’ll ensure you’re riding along with the traffic and not against it. If you’re in a collision and it’s not your fault, then you should contact a specialist bicycle accident lawyer who will maximize your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve.
3. Use Hand Signals
Avoiding collisions can be as easy as getting skilled in hand signals when riding your bike. Small gestures will warn and prepare other road users who are coming up behind you when you plan to turn, slow down or stop.
Some Common Hand Signals For Cyclists Are:
- To Turn Right: There are two common ways to signal a right turn. You can either put out your right hand sideways with all fingers straight or pointing right, or you can extend your left arm out and bend it a 90-degree right angle, with your hand point upward.
- To Turn Left: Extend your left arm sideways and either extend your fingers or use your index finger to indicate that you’re turning left
- To Stop Or Slow Down: You can use either your left arm or right arm. Stretch your arm sideways, bend it at a right angle pointing down and allow your palm to face backward.
4. Ride In Residential Areas Rather Than Main Roads
It’s always safer to ride through residential areas where possible and avoid main road traffic. Quiet streets will have little or no traffic at all, reducing the risk of accidents through the absence of other road users that could cause them. These areas often have lower speed limits, too, so any accidents will be at low speed and are therefore less likely to cause significant harm.
For children, in particular, it’s safer to ride bicycles through quiet streets and parks rather than on main roads. The absence of cars and traffic in these areas also strengthen their riding skills in a low risk environment.
5. Wear Bright And Reflective Clothing
In general, it’s best to wear cycling clothes that reflect light and are brighter colors, but this is especially important at night when visibility is poor. Bright clothing in colors like red, yellow or green ensures that other road users will see you approaching.
Aside from clothing, you should equip your bike with reflective panels and lights at the front and the rear. This will create enough awareness for whoever is coming behind you or approaching you, especially at night.
6. Check Your Brakes
One thing you need to check before leaving home on your bike is your braking system. A good braking system is crucial in helping you avoid a bicycle accident, as it ensures you can safely stop if traffic conditions change suddenly, or if a car turns in front of you. If you’re caught in traffic and you have poor or faulty brakes, you may be unable to avoid a sudden collision.
To ensure the functionality of your brakes, check the brake pads from time to time. The sort of brake pads your bike has will depend on the type of bike; the most common are rim brakes and disk brakes. It’s best to take your bike to get professionally serviced once or twice a year, depending on use.
7. Don’t Drive While Drunk
The legal blood alcohol content of cyclists varies from state to state, but to be safe, it’s best to avoid driving after drinking or while intoxicated.
Alcohol impacts the body’s reflexes, resulting in slower reaction times and impaired motor movements. It can also affect your ability to concentrate. Thus, cycling while drunk or intoxicated increases the risk of collisions.
Avoiding cycling traffic collisions is possible if you take adequate precautions and adhere to the tips above, such as avoiding distractions, staying in the bike lane and wearing bright and reflective clothing. Following these suggestions will help you avoid collisions while on the road and ensure you get to your location safely.