Cycling Laws Save Lives

May 5, 2013 - 6 minutes read

In any sport or activity, there are certain techniques and rules in place to improve performance and ensure the safety of the participants. In the world of cycling things are no different. Before jumping onto the Arizona Canal path, a new bicyclist must learn cycling laws if he or she is going to stay out of harm’s way.

(Photo: Lindsey Nelson/Cronkite News Service)

(Photo: Lindsey Nelson/Cronkite News Service)

The risks are heightened for bikers because, not only is the ground speeding by just a couple feet below them, but they are in close contact with cars. They must act like every other car on the road—except without the added protection of airbags and bumpers. Because of this great risk, it is absolutely vital for cyclists to follow the rules and learn the techniques to avoid an accident and stay safe.

The Right Gear

Protection is limited for a bicyclist, but having the proper equipment can mean the difference between life and death. Before it is important for a person to have the following:
• Helmet
Wearing a helmet is common sense. It can literally be the difference between a minor accident and a major tragedy.
• Gloves
For serious riders, padded gloves help absorb shock. But in the event of a fall, gloves will also protect a rider’s hands from being scraped up.
• Lights
Many bikers avoid riding at night altogether; most auto-on-bike accidents occur when it is dark outside. However, if a rider goes out at night it is law to be equipped with both a tail light and headlight. Without proper lights, he or she would be nearly invisible to a driver at night.
• Bright Clothing
Bikers are not known for their impeccable fashion sense—but those bright neon colors and loud patterns are not meant for the runway anyway. Being conspicuous, both day and night, is perhaps a rider’s best protection because it will prevent an accident from happening in the first place.

Obey the Laws

Bicyclists need to behave just like motorists when riding in the street. Stop signs, lighted intersections, flow-of-traffic, turn signals…riders must observe these with as much, if not more, careful attention as a motorist. And while it may seem safer to stick to the sidewalks, the risks of hurting a pedestrian or being hit by a car (who is not looking for bikers on the sidewalk) are actually greater than just following the rules of the road. Almost all accidents can be prevented by simply sticking to the cycling laws.
The majority of car-bicycle accidents happen at intersections, when every driver is looking around for other cars coming from different directions. A small biker can become invisible in the chaos of a busy intersection—especially if he or she is trying to turn left or right. For a safe right turn, a rider is better off stopping behind a car instead of to the side of it. This way he or she will avoid being turned into or cut off on during the turn. A left turn is a little trickier. A cyclist may either signal and merge into the left-turn lane, or he or she can ride to the corner of the sidewalk and use the lit crosswalk.

Prepared for an Emergency

Sometimes a rider does all of the right things: wears a good helmet, has bright clothes, signals properly, and uses the proper lane. But when it comes down to it, bicycle safety involves two people. All it takes is one driver who isn’t paying attention. This is why, despite everything, a cyclist still needs to be prepared for an emergency.
When faced with an accident, a rider can basically do two things: brake or turn. Maintaining healthy brakes is a must and practicing a sudden-stop can save a biker’s life. On the other hand, knowing how to expertly maneuver one’s bike can also help. For a quick turn, a rider should steer the handle bars away from the direction he or she wants to go. Instead, lean into that direction. This will lead the bicyclist to then correct the lean by steering back in the direction of his or her body. A turn like this is more natural and balanced, so the cyclist will not fly off in the sudden change in direction. Standing up on the pedals can also give the rider more control.
Another part of being prepared for an emergency is knowing what to do immediately after. Cyclists deserve to be repaid for injuries and damages because they typically bear the brunt of an accident. When it comes to auto-bicycle accidents, the law offices of Michael Cordova can expertly handle any situation. Between a bike helmet and Michael Cordova, a rider will be protected both on and off the road.