Cycling is one of the healthiest and most environmentally friendly methods of transportation. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to commute away from motorists. If your weekly rides are often interrupted by cars, here are some top tips for ensuring that you’re safe alongside motorists.
While you don’t need to strap strobe lights to your bicycle, dressing in all black isn’t great either. You’ll want to wear something florescent during the daytime so you’ll stand out against your background and other cars. At night, it’s impossible to see your clothing, so instead opt for something reflective so you’ll stand out against a car’s headlights.
Passing on the right is a bad idea for a couple of reasons. First off, it’s almost impossible for the cars you’re passing to see you. If you’re going through an intersection while passing a car on the right, the car may make a right-hand turn and hit you. You’re also hard to see for oncoming traffic when you pass on the right!
One of the most common crash scenarios for cyclists is “getting doored.” In this harrowing scenario, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t: a motorist opens his car door in front of you, so you’re stuck either slamming into the sheet of metal or swerving into oncoming traffic. To avoid this situation, you should always ride at least 4’ away from parked cars.
Photo by @vckbee
Weaving in and out lanes can make it feel like you’re saving time and staying safe by getting away from cars, but you’re actually increasing your change of getting rear ended. The best example of this is when you approach a line of empty parking spots. It may seem tempting to ride in the empty parking line, but at some point, the parking spots will stop or you’ll come upon a car that’s actually using the spot. You’ll then need to merge back into traffic last minute, which is always a risky move.
Flashing lights are a great way to increase your visibility at all times of the day. You’re required to have a red rear reflector and a white headlight on your bicycle in Michigan, but no states require flashing lights. A study performed by Trek Bikes found that cyclists who used lights in the daytime reduced crashes by up to 25%.
Much like you should equip your bicycle with a flashing light or two, you should also replace the cute bell that came with your bike with something a little heavier duty, especially if you cycle in an area with a lot of pedestrians. By using a loud bell you’ll let pedestrians and other cyclists know where you are so they can yield accordingly.
This article was created Personal Injury Help (www.personalinjury-law.com), an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only. Be sure to review your local cycling ordinances to ensure you ride safe and legally!
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