We recently discussed how more and more bicyclists will be returning to the roads in the coming weeks now that favorable weather conditions have returned. We also discussed how of these bicyclists will need to be especially careful given the negligent driving practices of many of the motorists with whom they share the road.
Indeed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in 2012 alone, the most recent year for which data is available, that 726 pedalcyclists were killed and another 49,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents, accounting for 2 percent of all traffic deaths and 2 percent of all traffic injuries.
What can I do to stay safe?
First and foremost, always be certain to wear a bike helmet, as it can reduce the risk of suffering a potentially life-changing head injury by 85 percent. Furthermore, bicyclists should wear clothing outfitted with reflective material so that they can be more easily seen by motorists.
It goes without saying that headphones and smartphones should be stored at all times while riding a bicycle.
What about while I'm actually out on the road?
According to AAA, bicyclists must always ride on the right side of the road moving with traffic and, if traveling in a group, always ride single file while maintaining adequate stopping distance between one another.
In addition, all bicyclists should stop and look both ways before entering a roadway.
Should I plan my ride ahead of time?
AAA indicates that this is a good idea if you -- and your fellow bicyclists -- will be traveling in an unfamiliar area. However, this means more than just planning the route and a backup plan in case of separation. It also means learning more about local laws/ordinances, avoiding busy roads and traffic times, and determining the best routes for night cycling (if applicable).
How concerned do I need to be about road hazards?
Very concerned. Indeed, AAA advises people to always be on the lookout for potential hazards -- objects in the road, uneven pavement, slipping hazards, etc. -- while behind the handlebars, as they are far more common than they might think.
As always, please remember to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible if you've been injured in a bicycle accident caused by a negligent motorist or unsafe road conditions.