Bicycling is a great way to exercise and get from point A to point B. But it can be dangerous.
Nearly 900 American bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents in 2018. Thousands more were hospitalized. Millions of Americans take to the road on their bicycle, but very few follow bicycle safety tips.
Your safety needs to be your top priority while you’re bicycling. Luckily, bicycle riding safety tips are easy to follow. Here are five essential tips you can practice today.
1. Know the State Laws
Florida is one of the deadliest states for bicyclists. As such, Florida has many laws to control bicycle riding.
Any person under the age of 16 must wear a helmet. It doesn’t matter if they are the operator or a passenger. Some cities have passed laws requiring older riders to wear helmets, but there is no statewide mandate.
Bicyclists must travel less than the speed of traffic. They must ride as close to the right-hand side of the roadway as possible. They can move away when passing another vehicle or preparing a left turn.
Bicyclists can ride on the sidewalk, but they must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian. Bicyclists should ride in bicycle lanes whenever possible.
The state of Florida defines a bicycle as a vehicle. You cannot bicycle while intoxicated or distracted. Do not ride your bicycle while wearing headsets or headphones.
Bicyclists are considered “vulnerable road users.” If you are injured in a hit and run, the driver’s offense increases by one level. This makes their potential sentencing longer.
2. Practice Good Bicycle Safety Tips
You should wear a helmet. It doesn’t matter how long you’re riding or how experienced you are. Two-thirds of bicycling deaths involve injuries to the head, which wearing a helmet reduces.
Follow good bicycle helmet safety tips. Make sure your helmet is a snug fit on your head and around your chin. Don’t pick a helmet that impairs your vision or hearing.
You should also wear elbow and knee pads. Many people scrape their joints when they get into an accident. Pads prevent cuts and diminish damages to your joints if you fall.
Wear clothes that allow you to be seen. Bright colors like yellow and orange are good choices. Wear reflective gear that shines when lights contact it.
Place rearview mirrors on your handlebars. Look into the mirrors as you make turns and monitor bicyclists behind you.
When you are bicycling on a road, follow its rules. The first person to come to an intersection is the first who gets to pass through it. Follow traffic lights and road signage, especially stop signs.
Communicate with drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Tell them where you are going and use hand signals to reinforce your approach.
Do not pass cars on the right. Pass them on the left and look for openings to do so. Avoid passing near trucks, which require a lot of space to turn.
3. Remain Alert
When you are at an intersection, take time examining the traffic. Give yourself at least three feet of space from the car nearest to you.
Give at least five feet of distance from a parked car. Many drivers can hit by an opening door and fall onto the ground. Signal to cars when you are approaching them.
If someone is driving recklessly, stay away from them. Wait to cross into traffic until they have left. Call 911 if you believe they are driving drunk.
Scan your surroundings while you ride. Look ahead for upcoming intersections and important signage. Look behind you so you can execute a turn.
Look toward the ground so you are aware of environmental hazards. You can lose your traction on ice or in puddles. Slow down when you see a hazard approaching.
If you’re on a long ride, pause for a moment to check the weather. If the weather will turn rainy or windy, stop bicycling for the day. Bring a small amount of money with you so you can hire someone to take you home.
4. Behave the Best You Can
Harassment is a common problem for a lot of bicyclists. Many bicyclists yell back at people who yell at them, which can lead to a fight.
Bike away from the person harassing you. Do not engage with them. For a non-verbal gesture, wave at them to defuse the tension.
If you must speak to them, keep it brief. Say something unusual or dramatic that throws them off. Stare at them to show you are standing your ground.
Report motorists who harass you to local authorities. This may sound extreme, but people will continue to harass others unless they receive punishment.
When someone is respectful toward you, respect them back. Give them a wave or offer an encouraging comment.
5. Get Help After an Accident
As soon as an accident occurs, check for injuries. Take a moment to collect your thoughts, then look over your body. Look over someone else after you’ve cared for yourself.
Call 911 immediately. Ask for police and an ambulance. Even if you don’t think you have a serious injury, get medical attention.
Avoid moving as much as possible. Moving around can make an internal injury worse. Only move if a vehicle catches on fire or leaks gas.
Exchange contact information with the other people involved. This includes passengers and witnesses.
Get a full medical evaluation from the first responders and your doctor. Document everything. Keep all medical and financial paperwork they give you.
Take photographs of your injuries and the accident site. If other people saw the accident, get their witness statements.
Once you’ve gathered information, hire an attorney. You are entitled to compensation after an accident. Give over all information you have and keep in contact with them as they prepare a case for you.
Be Safe, Be Smart
An accident is every bicyclist’s worst nightmare. Many accidents can be prevented with basic bicycle safety tips.
Know and follow Florida bicycle laws. Wear a helmet and protective gear, especially if you are underage. Communicate with fellow riders on the road.
Scan your surroundings and remain alert of threats. Do not engage with people who harass you. Get help after an accident occurs, including medical and legal attention.
Get the assistance you deserve. The Law Offices of Jeffrey A. Vivo is Florida’s leading law firm for bicyclists. Contact us today, or call us at 561-665-1130.