In 2018, 857 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes in the United States.
Being hit by a car while biking is every cyclist’s worst fear.
How can you keep yourself safe and avoid bike-car accidents?
Let’s take a look at the best ways you can keep yourself out of harm’s way while biking in 2020.
How to Avoid Bike-Car Accidents
It isn’t clear whether bicyclists or motorists are more likely to be at fault in crashes. Either way, do yourself a favor and make sure you’re doing everything you can to avoid being one of the bikes hit by a car.
Make Yourself as Visible as Possible
There are a lot of things you can do to increase your visibility to vehicle drivers. Maybe it makes you feel goofy, but better to be goofy than involved in a bicycle accident.
Make sure your bike has a front headlight and a rear flashing red light. Even when you’re not riding at night, having lights can make it a lot easier for distracted drivers to see you biking along the road. Let yourself be seen so you won’t be another bicycle hit by a car!
Wear Bright Clothes
Either wearing bright clothes while cycling or having a reflective vest are great ways to ensure drivers can see you coming. You can also decorate your backpack, bike, helmet, and body with reflective stickers. Avoid wearing black or dark colors, as you’ll make it near impossible for people to see you!
Don’t Stop in Cars Blind Spots
Some tragic accidents have occurred when a car hits a bicyclist they didn’t see. If you pull up to the right of a car at a red light, don’t sit in their blind spot. If you go straight, and they turn right, you could get injured or worse.
Signal When Turning or Changing Lanes
With so many of us all out there on the road, trusting each other to follow the rules, it’s important to communicate if you’re planning on making a turn or switching lanes. Don’t expect that the other drivers can read your mind, just like you’d expect them to use their turn signal.
If You See a Car That Doesn’t See You, Try to Get Their Attention
If you see a car turning left off a side street that doesn’t appear to have seen you yet, you’ll want to do everything you can to get their attention.
If all your efforts to make eye contact are failing, you’ll want to ring your bell, wave your arms, or yell Hey! to let them know that you’re coming through. While all this is going down, you should also slow down so you can come to a full stop if you need to. Sure, it’s inconvenient, but it’s better than being a cyclist hit by a car.
Get a Mirror
Either a helmet or handlebar mirror can let you know what’s going on behind you without you having to be constantly turning around. That being said, never move left without looking behind you first.
This is a relatively inexpensive way to give yourself a lot more information about who else is on the road with you and where.
Practice Good Bicycling Etiquette
Riding on the wrong side of the road, against traffic, is nearly three times as dangerous as riding the right way. Always make sure to bike on the right side of the road!
Another way you’ll see a bicycle accident happen is when a bicyclist is riding on the sidewalk and using the crosswalk to cross the street. Don’t ride on the sidewalk, this makes you a lot less visible to cars when you do cross the street. If cars don’t expect to see you there, they’re less likely to look for you there.
A lot of us feel compelled to hug the curb when we’re riding because we’re worried about being a cyclist hit by a car from behind.
Actually, though, it’s a good idea to ride further to the left and take a lane when appropriate. This can help you avoid getting hit by a car door and make you more visible to side street traffic.
Another tip: don’t swerve in and out of the parking lane if it contains parked cars. A car coming up on your left could not see you until it’s too late.
Choose Your Routes Wisely
We can’t always choose what routes we take to and from places, but oftentimes there are a few different options to choose from. Take the time to decide what route you’ll take.
Avoid busy streets when possible, choosing slow and wide streets.
On the weekends, when the likelihood that people will be driving drunk or recklessly is higher, take quieter backstreets if you can.
No amount of other advice will help you if you’re not staying alert while riding in traffic. No matter where you’re biking, whether in a big city or a small rural town, being aware of your surroundings could save your life.
What Should You Do if You’ve Been Hit by a Car While Bicycling?
If you’ve been hit by a car while riding a bicycle, it’s important that you wait for the police to arrive to file an accident report, even if you don’t think you’re injured. Make sure your version of events makes it into the police report. If you can, get the name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, insurance information, and vehicle license number of the driver of the car.
When you get home, write down everything that you can remember about the accident and seek medical attention for your injuries, however minor, immediately. Preserve evidence by not fixing your bike or washing your clothing.
It’s possible you’ll want to consult a personal injury lawyer who can help advise you, negotiate with your insurance, or represent you should there be a lawsuit.
If you’re thinking about contacting a lawyer because you were involved in a pedestrian accident, call Sweet James today for a free and confidential evaluation of your case.
Be Safe Out There!
Biking is both an awesome form of transportation and a fun hobby. Do yourself a favor and do everything you can to keep yourself safe on the road to avoid bike-car accidents.
Did you love this article about bicycle safety? Be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more informative content!