Bicycle Safety Tips for Both Cyclists and Drivers
September 28th, 2020|
Indiana’s many traffic laws are designed to protect everyone who uses its roadways. That includes people in passenger vehicles as well as commercial truck drivers, bus drivers and passengers, motorcyclists, pedestrians in crosswalks, and even bicyclists.
Many people choose to ride bicycles as their primary or secondary form of transportation—it’s great exercise, it’s extremely low-cost, and all you need is a bike rack and a lock for easy parking. But bicyclists face more dangers on Indiana’s roads than others do, and it’s up to both drivers and cyclists themselves to do everything in their power to reduce the risk of bicycle accidents in the Hoosier State.
When You’re Driving, Follow These Tips Around Bicyclists
When you’re behind the wheel of your vehicle, you’re probably focused primarily on looking out for other cars, trucks, and SUVs. But it’s important to be aware of everyone who shares the road with you, including bicyclists. People traveling on two wheels also have a right to the road, and their safety should be taken into consideration. Here’s how you can give it to them:
- Stay out of bike lanes—Bike lanes are for bicyclists. They aren’t extra room for your vehicle, so be sure to stay in your lane and well away from them while driving.
- Check your mirrors before turning—Bicyclists can come “out of nowhere.” Because of their small size and lack of noise, you may be driving next to or just in front of a bicyclist for a long stretch of road without realizing it. But when you turn, you could cut them off or even hit them. Always use your turn signals and check your mirrors before turning, especially near bike lanes.
- Don’t pass bicyclists unless it’s legal and you have plenty of room—Bicycles aren’t as fast as vehicles, and that means they may hold up traffic from time to time. If you’re behind a slower-moving bicyclist, don’t try to pass right away. Doing so could put the bicyclist in danger. Instead, make sure it’s legal to pass on that stretch of road, then do so only when you have plenty of room.
- Avoid distractions—Bicyclists can be hard to spot and easy to lose track of. Distracted driving is always dangerous but being distracted makes it even more likely that you’ll strike a bicyclist or cause the bicyclist to crash. Keep your eyes on the road and keep your eyes peeled for bicyclists when you know they may be present.
- Look before opening your door—If you parallel parked on a street, never open your door without checking your mirrors or doing a head turn to see what’s coming up behind you. Vehicles aren’t the only thing to watch out for—it could be a bicyclist who could be seriously injured by your vehicle door.
When You’re Cycling, Follow These Tips around Vehicles
As a bicyclist, it’s important to recognize that you’re at a major disadvantage on public roadways. First, you’re on a non-engine-powered vehicle. That means you can’t accelerate or quickly swerve away from danger. Second, you have only your helmet and pads to protect you in a crash. Third, drivers may not be looking for you. With those facts in mind, following these tips can help you reduce your risks:
- Make yourself visible—When drivers can clearly see bicyclists, they’re much less likely to accidentally hit them. To improve your visibility, make sure your bike is equipped with reflectors and that your clothing and/or helmet is also reflective or brightly colored. If you ride at night, consider attaching a light to your bicycle.
- Ride with the flow of traffic—Even though you may be slower than many vehicles, riding with the flow of traffic—and potentially holding it up—is still safer than riding against it.
- Obey traffic laws—As a cyclist, you have the same right to the road as other motorists—but you also need to obey all traffic laws and respect other drivers. That means observing the speed limit, stopping at stop signs and red lights, and not riding while intoxicated.
- Don’t listen to music—Jamming to your favorite music while riding your bike seems like a great combination, but it can be dangerous. As a bicyclist, you need to utilize your hearing in addition to your sight to avoid dangers on Indiana’s roads.
- Signal when necessary—Unlike people in vehicles, you likely don’t have an easy way to communicate your intentions to other drivers. Hand signals can be helpful, but not all drivers understand what they mean. If you’re stopped at an intersection, try to make eye contact with drivers to ensure they know you’re there.
If You’re Injured on an Indiana Roadway, We Want to Speak with You
At Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin, we believe in sharing the road with everyone who uses it. Bicyclists have just as much right to ride on whatever roads they want, provided they’re permitted to do so legally (i.e., non-highways and interstates). And when they’re hurt in accidents that were caused by negligent drivers, we help them get compensation for their medical bills and lost wages.
If you or someone you love was hurt in a traffic accident, whether you were driving, biking, riding, or walking, we want to help you get maximum compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. Contact our Indiana personal injury lawyers today. We have the experience and track record of success you’re looking for, and we’ll put our skills to work for you from day one.