Important Gear and Safety Tips for Cyclists
Given Oregon’s natural beauty, along with a population of health-conscious citizens, cycling has long been popular around the state. Some people focus on bicycles as an important form of transportation. They allow travel while lowering carbon emissions and reducing traffic and sound pollution. Others primarily cycle as a form of exercise or for hardcore sporting activity.
And with the Covid-19 pandemic in full force, more and more people seem to be riding bicycles and enjoying other forms of outdoor activity that easily allow for social distancing and are promoted as safer alternatives to gyms and other forms of indoor activity.
While we are big fans of cycling and other outdoor endeavors, it is important to remember that cyclists face their own dangers. In this article, we will provide some important common-sense gear and safety tips for cyclists.
The Importance of Bicycle Safety
According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), each year bicyclists comprise approximately 2 percent of those killed in motor vehicle crashes. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2018, 857 bicyclists died in crashes with motor vehicles, which represented a 7 percent increase from the previous year.
But those statistics only include deaths. How many people survive but are injured? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 467,000 bicyclists suffered injuries in 2015. While deaths have increased, People Powered Movement reports that injuries have decreased. Hopefully, that trend will continue.
To protect yourself from danger, there are common-sense steps you can take. Below, we outline some important gear to use and safety precautions to follow.
- Helmet - Without a doubt, the number one piece of safety gear is the helmet. The majority of deaths and serious injuries included head injury. Moreover, wearing a helmet can sometimes prevent or limit brain injury. Remember, the helmet should fit properly.
- Bike headlight/reflectors - A headlight not only lets you see better, but it also allows automobiles to better see you, especially at night. Additionally, your bike should have reflectors, especially on the back.
- Proper footwear - Wear shoes made for biking, or at least with stiff soles and that attach snugly to the foot. Some people wear sandals or other loose-fitting shoes that can fall off or get tangled in the bicycle.
- Mirror - Just like driving a car, when riding a bike, it is safer to be able to observe what is happening behind you.
- Proper clothing - Clothes should fit snugly enough that they do not get tangled in moving parts of the bike and do not distract you. The clothing should also be reflective so that you will be seen easily.
- Bell - Having a bell (or horn) allows you to alert others to your presence.
- Do not drink or use drugs - More than one-third of deaths involved alcohol use by the automobile driver or the bike rider.
- Use the safety gear described above.
- Follow traffic laws and be predictable - If drivers understand what you are going to do, they can better avoid hitting you.
- Drive in the same direction as automobiles are traveling.
- Be alert - Obviously, a bike rider is much more likely to be injured in a collision with a car than is an occupant of the car. Therefore, it’s important to be extraordinarily diligent. Watch everything and drive defensively. Assume that drivers do not see you, and do not do anything that distracts you, such as talking, texting, or listening to music.
- Take a class to improve riding skills.
- Follow pedestrian signals when crossing a street.
- Try to avoid riding on sidewalks and watch out for pedestrians.
- More deaths occur between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Therefore, be vigilant during these times.
Call with Questions
If you have been injured while cycling, you may have questions about your legal rights. The experienced Oregon personal injury attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield are here to answer them. Just contact us for a free consultation. We know that the only way to protect cyclists in the future is to make sure that wrongdoers who injure bike riders are held accountable for their actions.