Safe Cycling: 5 Tips For Accident Avoidance
Safe cycling requires more than just wearing a helmet and following the law. With the very little physical protection that bicyclists have, the risk of getting hit and seriously injured by cars always exists. Cyclists should prioritize avoiding being hit whenever they are on the road. The following tips help cyclists avoid dangerous accidents.
1. Avoiding Busy Streets
Although cyclists have equal rights to use the road as other motorists, they face a significant risk of being struck by a car when riding on highways and major roadways. Many bicycle-car collisions occur on busy, crowded streets in urban areas. It is best for bicycle riders to take roads with fewer and slower cars. The slower a car moves, the more time that the driver has to see a cyclist.
If cyclists learn the routes well and plan carefully, they can get to most places by traveling through neighborhoods and other areas with less traffic. Consequently, they will only cross busy streets rather than travel on them.
2. Using the Whole Lane
Motorists see cyclists more quickly when they are riding in the middle of a lane. It is safest for riders to take the whole lane or ride a bit to the left. That helps prevent motorists from making right turns or pulling into or out of driveways across the path of cyclists. The behavior also prevents cyclists from being hit when someone suddenly opens a door of a car parked on the side of the road.
Taking the whole lane also forces drivers to wait behind a cyclist or make a lane change to pass rather than passing the cyclist too closely within the same lane on a narrow roadway.
3. Riding With the Traffic Flow
People should ride bicycles with, not against, the traffic flow. Riding on the left-hand side of a street, against traffic, can seem like a good idea because the cyclist can see the vehicles passing him or her. It is, however, a terrible idea for several reasons:
- Drivers making a right turn from a side street, parking lot, or driveway are looking for traffic on their left and not their right. They can easily plow into the cyclist riding the wrong way.
- In a car vs. bicycle accident, a collision occurs at a greater relative speed if the bicycle is moving toward the car.
- Riding against traffic flow is against the law.
Some research has found riding against traffic to be three times more dangerous than riding with traffic.
4. Being Visible
Cyclists should enhance their safety by being as noticeable as possible during the day and at night. This can be achieved by:
- Wearing highly reflective clothing
- Having reflectors and lights on the bicycle
- Using a rear flashing red light when riding at night
5. Avoiding Texting and Listening to Music
No matter how heavy the traffic may or may not be on the road, riders need to listen for car horns, sirens, people yelling, and other sounds from the surroundings. Riding while listening to portable music players prevents riders from hearing their surroundings, thus threatening their safety. They should, therefore, not wear headphones while riding. Talking on a cell phone or texting is equally risky. Such distracted bikers can swerve onto oncoming vehicles and trigger auto accidents.