Bicyclists exist in a precarious position on the road between motorists and pedestrians. They move far faster and more powerfully than pedestrians, yet are often relegated to the sidewalks because their vehicles are powered by human effort, rather than engines. But sometimes, bicyclists are forced to ride in the road because of severe congestion on the sidewalk or a lack of one entirely. Although some cities in the United States are adding bicycle paths to their roadways to better provide for bicyclists, many have yet to make this change.
When bicyclists have to share the road with motorists, accidents can easily occur. Bicycle accidents can result in serious injuries to bicyclists, who do not have the protection of a metal chassis like motorists have. An injury sustained in a collision between a car and a bicycle can result in a long-term or permanent disability, a substantial injury, the need to stop working for an extended period of time or even permanently, and death. When riding a bicycle on the roadway, be sure to exercise proper caution and safety procedures.
Keep Yourself Safe when you Ride your Bicycle
The most important safety rule to follow when riding a bicycle is to always wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet reduces your risk of suffering a head injury dramatically in the event you fall or are thrown from your bicycle in a collision. In Tennessee, all children age 16 and under are required to wear helmets when riding bicycles.
Other safety precautions to take when riding a bicycle include:
- Wear light-colored clothing when riding at night. Attaching a light to your bicycle and reflective tape to your clothing and helmet also make you more visible at night, minimizing your risk of being involved in a collision with a driver;
- Obey the rules of the road. These apply to bicyclists as well as drivers;
- Learn and use the proper hand signals for making right and left turns. Much like a car’s blinker communicates its driver’s intentions to others on the road, clear hand signals from a bicyclist can prevent an accident caused by miscommunication;
- Inspect your bicycle before riding it. Check that the chain is in place, the brakes work, and the tires are properly inflated;
- Wear the correct shoes for bicycling. Flip flops and other types of open shoes can put your feet at risk of injury. Always choose closed shoes like sneakers or shoes made specifically for bicycle riding; and
- Adjust your riding to the local weather and traffic conditions. Environmental hazards like wet and icy asphalt can make it more difficult to control a bicycle and create a greater danger of becoming involved in an accident.
If you Are Involved in an Accident with a Car
You may seek compensation for your losses through the responsible driver’s automobile insurance policy. Talk to an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more about this process and how it differs for you because you were riding a bicycle, rather than driving or riding in a car, when your accident occurred.
Do not speak with a representative of the driver’s insurance provider until you have spoken with an attorney and determined what to say. Anything you say to an insurer can be used against your claim later in the process, even if you did not intend to say anything that could be potentially harmful.