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The Bicycle Rules: Safe, Aware, and Cautious

A bicycle messenger is peddling fast in the bike lane, trying to get to his destination. He’s observing all traffic laws, wearing a helmet, and maintaining situational awareness to avoid being struck. He’s also going very quickly, trying to make his route before he has to return to the office. As he approaches the intersection, he checks the turn lane for cars, and sees none. He pedals on, entering the last intersection before he is done for the day. Suddenly, he hears tires lock up, and sees the broad side of a car screeching toward him into the side of the intersection. It’s all he can do to jump off of his bike, but the car is faster and he catches it square in the chest. The bike messenger is thrown several yards from the car, and lies on the hood of another vehicle waiting at the red light.

It Happens Every Day
Bicycle accidents happen every day. Bikes are subject to many of the same laws as vehicles, and have the added caveat that they must be careful to avoid being struck. Vehicles moving at a high speed have a hard time seeing bikes, simply because of the speed difference in the driver’s eyes. Especially dangerous points include intersection, as in the story above, and even simply driving in the bike lane. Some believe there is nothing you can do, that accidents will happen. Not so!

Be Safe, Be Aware, Be Cautious
Safety starts when you leave the house. Any serious biker should wear a helmet, and if possible additional safety equipment. Bikes should be outfitted with reflectors, and should be checked daily to ensure that they are in proper mechanical working condition. Ensure that your clothing won’t snag, your helmet won’t fall over your eyes, and wear sunglasses to prevent the sun from blinding you. Once you’re on the road, be aware of your surroundings. A few feet ahead isn’t enough; you should be looking blocks ahead for potential dangers. Check left and right for vehicles and even pedestrians that look like they aren’t paying attention. Being pushed from the right is just as dangerous as being bumped from the left. Last, be cautious when riding your bicycle. Some have the attitude that, “if they hit me it’s their fault.” That’s true, but you’re still injured, or worse, dead! Have the attitude that losing a little time is preferable to causing an accident, and yield the right of way anytime an aggressive driver is spotted.

What If You Get Hit?
Getting hit is a scary thought. First, remember not to try to move or get up right away. You could have damage that will be multiplied by your efforts to get up. Remain in place and call for help. Once help arrives, if it hasn’t already been done, ask for an ambulance. Even if you feel alright, it’s a good idea to at least get checked out by the paramedics before leaving the scene. You should get the driver’s information as well, in case it turns out that you need serious medical help. Consider getting an attorney if you are seriously injured, as you may have damages that you need to be compensated for.

Be careful riding your bicycle! Many people have long lives of bike riding without issue; these are the ones who play it safe. Remember that a small bump from a car can result in serious injury or death. Be safe, be aware, and be cautious.

Cias Hart