Bicycle Safety - Cars, Bikes and Even Pedestrians Have to Play Nicely Together
August 14, 2017
From Brooklyn, New York to Portland, Oregon and everywhere in between, including Ohio, from Cleveland to Toledo and Ashtabula on down to Canton, Mansfield and Cincinatti , more and more people are biking. We’re using our bicycles to commute to work, exercise and explore the area around us. In fact, many cities report more than 150% increases in bicycle trips in only the last few years. This means that bicycles, cars, trucks and even pedestrians have to share roads, sidewalks and even park pathways. And it’s not always easy…for anyone.
Never listen to music or wear earbuds while riding. You need to be fully engaged and paying attention to your surroundings. This will enable you to hear a car approaching from behind and perhaps avoid serious injury. But being a careful bike rider won't always protect you from careless pedestrians or motorists.
Last year I was riding on a bicycle path when I approached a woman who was wearing earbuds and listening to loud music. I called out, “behind you, behind you,” but she didn’t hear me because the music was too loud. She moved to the left so I passed on her right because there was plenty of room. I was knocked off my bicycle when she absentmindedly took off her backpack and accidentally slapped me in the head. She knocked my bike down and then landed on top of me, screaming as picked herself up and walked away, leaving me laying in the dirt. I was able to ride the 8 ½ miles to my home, but shortly found that I needed surgery for my injuries. Had she paid a little more attention to her surroundings, my injuries would have been avoided.
While not every accident can be avoided, there’s a lot you can do to stay safe and to keep others safe.
Use a flashing bright headlight and a flashing taillight, even in daylight. Studies as long ago as 2001 have shown that flashing lights attract more attention than constant lighting. But more than 750 lumens may be too much. Ohio law only requires that your bicycle be lit at night but daylight illumination will help catch the eye of the driver who might otherwise turn into you or suddenly cut off your right-of-way. Always buy the best equipment you can afford because, while this may cost a little more, what it will save you in increased pain and suffering or worse has no price.
The only exception to this price rule is your helmet. It is safe to buy the least expensive helmet that you find comfortable. According to Consumer Reports, even a $25.00 helmet may provide adequate safety. But if your helmet is more than a couple of years old, you need to replace it. The foam interior simply deteriorates over time and will no longer protect your head as well. Also, if you’ve been in an accident in which your helmet has been damaged or simply has struck something, even if it looks intact it must be replaced. Bicycle helmets only protect you for one accident, no matter how they look.
The Ohio Bicycle Federation is devoted to bicycle safety. It provides safety tips including Ohio Bicycling Street Smarts , which is published by the Ohio Department of Public Safety. There are many other books and pamphlets, including some devoted to young riders (now all we have to do is get them to read these publications!). Some Ohio safety tips include:
- Always ride with traffic and not against it.
- Always signal when turning.
- Always wear a helmet.
- Always wear bright clothing.
- Always keep your tires properly inflated and your brakes well maintained.
- Stay within your lane and never turn inside another car.
- Be very cautious in making a left hand turn, especially when you have to cross other lanes to get to the turning lane.
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an Ohio bicycle accident you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled attorneys at the Cleveland, Ohio personal injury and wrongful death law firm of Rubin Guttman & Associates have extensive experience getting their injured clients the compensation they deserve. Call 216-696-4006 or 1-888-GUTTLAW to schedule a free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Or check out our website for more information at www.guttlaw.com/bicycle-accidents.html