As people yearn to get of their homes to exercise during the Covid pandemic, and with the arrival of warmer weather, more cyclists are taking to our roads. Cycling makes for great exercise and is also popular for commuting. Unfortunately, cycling accidents can lead to serious injury or even death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 857 bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents in 2018. (Source: NHTSA.gov) Adopting safe cycling practices can reduce your chance of injury and keep you happily on your way.
Wear Protective Equipment
Not all cycling accidents involve a motor vehicle collision. Cyclists are also at risk from falling off their bicycles. Helmets are the best safety equipment you can wear when cycling to prevent or minimize head injuries. However, not just any helmet will work.
Helmet safety tips:
- Measure your head and try on several to ensure a snug fit.
- Adjust the side and chin straps so that your helmet is not loose.
- Replace helmets after a crash.
- Wear your helmet on every ride.
Every cyclist, young and old, needs a properly fitted helmet. The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute rates helmets on safety and provides information on the latest models. Along with a helmet, there are other smart protective equipment options. Cyclists should wear bright clothing during the day and reflective clothing for riding at night. You can also protect your eyes with shatter-proof eyewear.
Keep your Bicycle Maintained
Just like vehicle maintenance, keeping your bicycle properly maintained is an important safety component. Make sure you’re using the right bike for your size and for the type of road surface you will be riding. Check your tire pressure before heading out for a ride. If possible, take along a tire pump, patch kit, and an extra tube. Do not set out with a loose chain or improperly-working brakes. Performing regular tune-ups on your bicycle can keep it functioning properly and safely.
Follow the Rules of the Road
Cyclists must follow the same rules as motor vehicles when traveling on roads and highways. This means that you should always ride in the same direction as traffic and in a single file line. Keep a straight riding path and avoid weaving all over the road. You are also responsible for obeying all traffic signs, stoplights, and road markings. Use hand signals (find them here) when you are preparing to turn or stop.
Defensive driving is an important skill for cyclists. It means assuming you are not seen by motor vehicles, that you are looking ahead for hazards, and that you are not riding distracted by anything that takes your eyes and mind off the road. (Source: NHTSA.gov) It’s smart to plan your route before heading out so you can keep your focus on maintaining safety.
Utilize Cycling Trails
Cycling trails are a great way to exercise safely by limiting or eliminating vehicle traffic. Iowa offers hundreds of miles of paved and dirt trails for cyclists of all types. Trailheads are located throughout the state and offer scenic views for cyclists. Find more information on trails near you at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Car Drivers Need to Be Careful Too
If you’re driving your car and come upon a cyclist, please remember that they have every right to be on the road. It’s imperative that you recognize they are in a vulnerable position and do all you can to keep them safe. If you feel you need to pass a cyclist, please use these precautions:
- NEVER pass them if you think it will jeopardize their safety.
- Reduce your speed.
- Check to make sure they are not turning but that they are continuing forward (watch for hand signals).
- Double check to make sure there is no traffic coming in the opposite direction.
- Give them a wide berth when you pass.
Call The James Law Firm
Even with your best effort to stay safe on the road, collisions with vehicles can still happen. The James Law Firm has the experience, compassion, and knowledge needed to tackle even the most complex cycling cases. If you’re a victim of a cycling accident and have been injured anywhere in Iowa, don’t hesitate to call us today at 515-246-8484. We represent clients in Des Moines, Davenport/Quad Cities, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Sioux City, Council Bluffs, and more. We will travel to help you!