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More than Just a Helmet: Traffic Safety Tips for Cyclists

October 14, 2015  ·  By HM&M

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Road and traffic safety are not just the responsibility of motorists; cyclists must learn how to prevent accidents effectively as well. This goes well beyond simple rules, such as wearing a helmet. Keep Illinois’ roads safe with the following cycling safety tips.

Know and Follow Local Traffic Laws

Cyclists are bound by many of the same traffic laws as motorists—do not run stop signs or red lights, ride on the appropriate side of the street, obey posted traffic signs, and use appropriate signals when making turns, for example. Because each state is different, it is important you familiarize yourself with the laws in your state and obey them.

Stay to the Right

As mentioned, it is important that you ride on the right side of the road. Stay as close to the curb as possible while still allowing yourself enough room for emergency situations. If this is not possible, stay within the lane. Never pass to the right of a stopped or slow vehicle; doing so will prevent you from being able to see their traffic signals. Instead, stay directly behind the vehicle while moving or while at an intersection.

Make Yourself Visible

“I did not see them.” It is the most commonly heard statement when it comes to motor vehicle accidents involving cyclists. Make yourself visible by wearing bright clothing, especially if visibility is low. Equip your bicycle with reflectors on all sides. Do not weave through traffic, between parked cars, or other obstacles on the road (this lowers your visibility, and it makes your movements unpredictable for motorists). And, whenever possible, make eye contact with motorists; this creates a “personal connection” with motorists and reminds them that you are a life in need of protection

Be a Defensive Cyclist

Whether it is vehicles in front of or around you, glass or ice or large items in the road, it is important that you watch carefully for obstacles. This will help prevent you from having to make any sudden movements into traffic, or that could increase your risk of spilling off of your bike.

Always keep at least one hand on your handlebars to ensure you can quickly and effectively handle sudden hazards. Take careful note of parked cars, watching carefully for doors that may open suddenly or vehicles that may pull out without seeing you. And never expect to be granted the right of way.

Maintenance and Upkeep

Maintenance and upkeep on your bicycle are just as important as it is on cars and other vehicles. Keep your tires properly inflated, oil gears and chains regularly, and check your brakes often. Also, be aware of how road or weather conditions may impact your braking or steering abilities.

When an Ounce of Prevention Is Not Enough

You cannot prevent everything; accidents can and do still happen, even when cyclists are obeying the laws and appropriate safety recommendations. When it does, contact a skilled bicycle and automobile accident attorney to ensure your rights are protected. All too often, insurance companies (or even motorists) will try to pin the fault on the cyclist, or will attempt to reduce your compensation for your injuries or the wrongful death or injuries of a loved one.


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