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Preventing a Bicycle Accident: Tips for Cyclists and Drivers

Mariela CorellaMariela Corella

Bicycling is a great transportation method, you can increase your cardiovascular fitness, improve posture and coordination, less traffic compared to driving, and it’s more eco-friendly. By law, bicycles on the roadway have the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles, however, many bicyclists and car drivers do not consider themselves equals and do not follow the same traffic laws. This could lead to car accidents resulting in serious and sometimes fatal injuries for bicycle riders. Bicycle accidents are one of the main causes of personal injuries in the United States, we have outlined some safety recommendations to prevent them.

How to Prevent an Accident as a Bicyclist

Practice defensive driving techniques by being focused and alert to pedestrians and cars around you, anticipate what others will do before they do it. Obey all traffic signals, street signs and road markings just as if you were driving a car. If you’re crossing a street from a sidewalk, stop and look for traffic, make eye contact with the drivers to make sure that they see you. Look ahead for any hazards on the road such as pebbles, potholes, train tracks or other objects that could cause you to fall off your bike. Avoid texting or listening to loud music on your phone, this could distract you and take your mind off the road and traffic and cause an accident.

Make sure that you ride where you are expected to be seen by car drivers, travel in the same direction as traffic, and look over your shoulder before changing lanes and turning. Depending on the city where you live, it may be illegal to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk. Riding your bicycle on the sidewalk could also be dangerous for pedestrians, and if the sidewalk ends then you are forced on the road unexpectedly and a driver may not see you.

Wear Protective Equipment

Make sure you always wear a helmet, even if you’re riding close to your house or for a short distance, wear a helmet. Studies show that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a head injury by 85 percent. If you’re riding your bike at night, add reflective equipment or lights to your bicycle, you can also wear reflective clothing, shoes and a helmet with reflective elements. It’s harder for drivers to spot bicyclists and pedestrians at night, by wearing bright reflective clothing it’s easier for them to see you on a dark road. Be extra careful when crossing a street or making turns when it’s dark, make sure you check for oncoming traffic and stay alert of your surroundings.

How to Prevent an Accident as a Driver

As a car driver, you have a responsibility to look out for pedestrians and bicyclists and avoid an accident. Treat bicyclists as you would a motor vehicle driver, they also have to follow the same rules as car drivers. Yield to bicyclists and don’t underestimate their speed, let them pass before you at an intersection or driveway. When exiting a parking lot or backing up from a driveway, make sure you check your surroundings for any bicyclists and pedestrians. Most importantly, give cyclists plenty of room, don’t pass too closely and if it’s safe to move to the next lane, do so to give the biker enough room.

It’s both a bicyclist and a car driver’s responsibility to prevent an accident. In 2018, there were 857 fatal bicycle accidents in the United States, by driving responsibly and practicing some of these safety precautions, we can avoid a serious and unfortunate accident.

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