Biking is a hobby for some, a passion for others. The ability to ride a bicycle affords a certain degree of freedom and fun. It is also a great way to stay active and spend time outside. That being said, bicycles are also one of the riskiest modes of transportation on the road. With increased exposure and less protection, even small mistakes can be costly for cyclists.
According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, a total of 299 bicycle-related crashes took place in 2017. Of these, 212 were injured and six killed. The report also states that nearly 50 percent of these crashes were caused by the cyclist.
This means that with proper safety measures, nearly half of these accidents could have been avoided. Here are some handy safety tips you can observe to minimize injury when riding a bicycle:
Wear Safety Gear
One of the most effective ways of minimizing injury risk on a bicycle is by wearing a helmet. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 70 percent. This is an important fact considering that most bicycle crashes result in head injuries to the riders. It is also important to note that bicyclists under the age of 16 are required by law to wear a helmet in Alabama.
You can also wear other safety gear such as protective clothing, knee pads, and gloves. Such gear will help you avoid the abrasions and cuts that cyclists routinely incur in minor accidents.
Ensure Bicycle Maintenance
Like other vehicles on the road, a bicycle must be properly maintained to ensure safety. Before you ride a bicycle, make sure all its components are in good working condition. These include the handle, pedals, gears, brakes, and wheels. Faulty bicycle components can directly cause a crash leading to injuries. It is best to routinely inspect your bicycle yourself or have it inspected by a skilled mechanic.
Obey the Laws
As with other states, the state of Alabama has special designated laws for bicycle riders. If you ride a bicycle in Alabama, you must obey these laws:
- Obey traffic laws: As a bicyclist, you are required to obey all the traffic signs, signals and laws. You have rights on the road and responsibilities towards other people. You must stop at red signals, slow down when a sign says so and overtake only in a suitable manner. You must also yield to the rest of the traffic as well as pedestrians when required.
- Don’t Drive after Drinking: Driving under Influence (DUI) is a serious offense. It applies to motorists as well as bicyclists. Your bicycle is considered a vehicle and if you are found drinking under the influence, you can be prosecuted.
- Sidewalks and Paths: If a designated path or lane for bicycles exists, you are required to ride on it. Many areas in Alabama also prohibit bicyclists from riding on the sidewalks. Where these regulations do not apply, you should ride as close to the right side of the road as possible.
Use Hand Signals
Bicycles typically lack blinkers. Therefore, you are more prone to an accident when taking a turn on a bicycle. Hand signals can go a long way towards preventing such accidents. A hand signal is quite visible, especially during the day. It lets other motorists see your intention of taking a turning or braking. As a result, the motorist can slow down as well and give you enough space to make a safe turn.
Improve Bicycle Visibility
Improving bicycle visibility lets other motorists see your bicycle from a distance and at night, preventing dangerous accidents. By Alabama law, to have lighting gear on your bicycle. This includes a red reflector that can be seen at distances of up to 600 feet. You must also install a white light at the front with a minimum range of 500 feet. Not only is this a legal requirement, but these measures are also very helpful in avoiding crashes when riding after dark.
If you are involved in a bike accident, know that you may be able to recover compensatory damages. At Hare Wynn, our Birmingham accident attorneys routinely work with individuals and families affected by bicycle crashes. Call us today for a free consultation.
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