Each year the number of cyclists killed increases though they’re often preventable. In 2014, there were 18, 881 incidences of injury or death among adult cyclists. 107 of those were deaths, 3090 were serious injuries, and 15,684 were mild injuries. These rates could be severely reduced with some simple changes to how cyclists act on the road such as knowing the laws and wearing reflective gear. We’ll dive deeper into road safety below.
The first thing you need to do is familiarize yourself with the laws of the road which can change depending on the place that you’re in. Many motorists become frustrated with cyclists if they’re not acting according to the law and this is when road rage sets in.
If you ride responsibly then the tensions between motorists and cyclists will be dramatically reduced.
Always stick to the road. If you ride on the sidewalk then you’re making it awkward for pedestrians to walk and you’ll also make the sidewalk unsafe. In fact, it’s illegal in most places for these exact reasons. Instead, ride in the direction that the traffic’s moving and keep close to the side of the road. You don’t want to be in danger of hitting a wheel on the curb but equally you don’t want to be blocking traffic.
However, if you’re travelling at the same speed as the traffic then feel free to jump in and ride with them. This will make you more visible and therefore let drivers know where you are so they don’t clip you by accident. Often, joining the stream of traffic is necessary as the road is too narrow. If an intersection is approaching, this is normally a good time to join the traffic, also.
If you need to overtake a cyclist or avoid something in the road then make sure the drivers behind you know what you’re going to do by making a signal with your hands.
When you do have to make the decision to join the traffic then make sure that you never pass on the right as it’s far too dangerous, even more so in an intersection. If you stick behind the motorist in front of you then you can see their signal and know what they’re about to do next. Otherwise, you’re essentially riding blind and asking to be hit.
A good way to alert drivers of what you’re doing is to make eye contact with them. This makes sure that they’ve seen you and also creates a personal friendly connection that reduces the chance of road rage. This normally means that motorists will give you more respect as well as room on the road. They’ll understand that there’s a person on that bike opposed to ‘just another cyclist.’
There are certain items you can purchase to reduce your risk of a serious injury in the unfortunate event of an accident as well as helping you prevent the accidents from occurring whatsoever. These items include flashing lights, reflective clothing, helmets, brightly coloured jackets, and reflective stickers. Your helmet should not be so tight that it hurts your head and also not loose enough that it’s wobbling about on your ride. Instead, it should be a nice comfortable fit that’s snug on your head.
Always ride predictably. If you’re veering all over the road and can’t work out what your next move is going to be then you can’t expect motorists to know either. Swerving in and out of traffic, coming away from and returning to the sidewalk and riding close to cars are all sure fire ways to create an accident.
When there is an accident between a cyclist and a motorist it’s always the cyclist that comes off worse due to the lack of protection. It’s your job to make sure that you stay safe with no erratic behavior or confusing moves.
A good way to think of yourself on the road is to imagine that you’re invisible. If you imagine that drivers can’t see you at all then you have to try extra hard and be on extra high alert in order to not get hit.
So, to sum up:
- Do not ride too close to the traffic – stick to the side of the road
- Do not run red lights
- Do not block cars – ride in single file if in a group
- Wear appropriate clothing – reflective gear and brightly colored clothing is advised
Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for all hazards such as gravel, stones, other cyclists, walkers, snow, parked cars, railroad tracks or other items on the road. If a car is approaching you quickly from behind then move out the way. If you’re unhappy with how a somebody is driving then let it pass and stay clear of it. Nothing is gained from rude gestures apart from both parties getting angry at each other which increases the chances of an incident.