Riding a bike is a great way to get around Louisville. However, cycling also presents some very serious risks. As the weather continues to get warmer, there are certain things that all cyclists can do to ensure a safe bicycle ride and avoid bicycle accidents.
Below are eight bicycle safety tips all riders should keep in mind each time they head out for a ride.
Always Wear a Helmet
Every time you hop on a bike, it is essential that you wear a properly-fitted helmet. According to the National Safety Council, about one-third of all non-fatal bicycle accidents result in head injuries. Additionally, more than half of bicycle fatalities in 2016 were not wearing a helmet. When purchasing a helmet, it is critical that you select a helmet that fits correctly. The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration provides a guide for determining the correct fit.
Wear Brightly Colored Clothing
Any cyclist—but especially those who ride early in the morning or at night—should wear bright clothing. One of the most common causes of bicycle accidents involves a motorist’s failure to notice a rider. By wearing brightly colored clothing, you increase the likelihood that drivers will see you.
Avoid Alcohol When Riding a Bike
According to the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration, approximately 25 percent of all fatal bicycle accidents involve a cyclist under the influence of alcohol. In some states, riding a bike under the influence of alcohol can even lead to a DUI arrest. While that isn’t the case in Kentucky, riding under the influence is still illegal (although the offense isn’t the same as a DUI), so there are still serious consequences.
Ensure the Bike Works
While many bicycle accidents are the result of driver or rider error, some are caused by bikes that don’t work well. For example, old brakes won’t slow a bike as well, a loose seat can swivel and cause the rider to lose balance, or a rusted axle could snap. Before you hop on a bike, walk about it once and inspect the handlebars, tires, brake cables and pads, forks, and spokes to make sure that everything is as it should be.
Familiarize Yourself with Kentucky Bike Laws
Every state has its own bicycle laws. It is important to understand the laws where you will be riding. For example, below are a few of the most important bike laws in Kentucky:
- Bicyclists must ride on the right side of the road whenever possible;
- Cyclists cannot ride more than two abreast except on trails or designated bike lanes;
- Cyclists must ride in a bike lane if one is available;
- Cyclists are permitted to ride on the sidewalk but must slow down around pedestrians (note: local laws may differ, so check the ordinances in your city before riding on the sidewalk);
- Bicyclists must follow traffic laws and signals, including stop signs and red lights;
- Cyclists riding at night must equip their bike with a white light visible from 500 feet away and a red rear reflector; and
- Biking under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal.
Additionally, bikes must operate according to the same rules as other vehicles. This means bikers should always ride with the flow of traffic and must yield the right of way when appropriate.
Watch Out for Parked Cars
Parked cars may not seem to pose much of a risk to cyclists because they are stationary. However, drivers exiting their vehicle might not seek a rider passing in a bike lane and may open the car door as the rider’s passing. This can cause the door to hit the cyclist. Alternatively, a cyclist who sees a car door opening in front of them may instinctively crank the handlebars to avoid a collision but end up putting themselves into the path of another passing vehicle.
Avoid Construction Zones
Construction zones not only present additional hazards to cyclists but also can cause confusion among other drivers. Whenever possible, try to avoid taking a route that crosses through a construction zone. If you must pass through a construction zone, the safest thing to do is to get off your bike and walk it through the construction zone.
Use Common Sense
As a general tip, it’s always best to trust your gut and use common sense. If a particular road seems too dangerous because of the traffic or there isn’t enough space on the shoulder, take another route. While it may seem inconvenient because it extends your trip, your safety is the priority, and a minor inconvenience is a small price to pay to avoid a bicycle accident.
Have You Suffered Bicycle-Related Injuries?
If you or a loved one recently suffered serious injuries in a bicycle accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the at-fault party. To successfully bring a bicycle accident lawsuit, you must prove that the other party—usually a driver—was legally negligent. In this context, negligence is a legal term that requires an accident victim to prove four elements:
- The other party owed the victim a duty of care,
- The other party violated that duty of care,
- The other party’s actions caused the cyclist’s injuries, and
- The cyclists suffered legally recognizable damages.
An experienced injury lawyer is instrumental in effectively investigating and preparing bicycle accident cases.
Contact the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, to Schedule a Free Consultation to Discuss Your Injuries
At the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, we proudly represent bicyclists and their families in personal injury lawsuits against drivers and other negligent parties. Founding attorney, Seth Gladstein, is a Louisville, KY native who represents accident victims throughout the state, including Bowling Green, Lexington, Murray, Owensboro, and Paducah. Seth will provide you with a free consultation to discuss your case and answer your questions. At the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, we won’t bill you for our legal representation unless we can recover compensation on your behalf. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation today, give us a call or connect with us through our online form.