I ride a motorcycle for fun and a bicycle for exercise. Experiencing both has shown me that in regard to safety precautions, the two are relatively similar. Neither offer any protection if you fall, you need to wear proper protective gear when you ride, and you cannot control what those around you do in regard to your own safety. I spend a lot of time writing about motorcycle accidents, but bicycle safety is just as important. These are the important safety precautions you must take when you cycle.
Know and Abide By the Traffic Laws
It seems pretty obvious that you should know and follow traffic laws, but the fact is that many cyclists don’t learn their state’s bicycle laws. Each state is different and you must become familiar with the laws for your own safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2009, 2 percent of all traffic related deaths were bicyclists; considering that bicycles are a less used mode of transportation than motor vehicles, that’s actually a high percentage. In 2009, 52,000 bicyclists were injured and 716 were killed in traffic accidents. The average age for a bicycle related fatality is 37 and for injuries it is 28, so don’t think children are the ones who are generally involved in bicycle accidents.
Remember What You Are On
You’re on a bicycle, not a passenger vehicle. If a car hits you, the driver probably won’t be injured; even at low speeds, however, you probably will. Always be aware of your surroundings to prepare for other people who may not be aware of you or who drive recklessly. Accidents happen too often; a split second mistake or decision can lead to you being seriously injured. Always be aware of places that you can retreat to if you see someone coming towards you and double check that your path is clear before you turn or cross streets. Do not make quick movements. Turn and place yourself in locations that are predictable; doing the unpredictable could lead to an accident. According to the NHTSA, in 2008, 69% of fatal bicycle accidents were in urban areas; be especially mindful when you are riding in busy, congested areas, like downtown destinations.
Maintain Your Bike
Maintaining your bicycle is imperative to your safety. You should consistently check that the following components are working properly:
Wear the Proper Gear
Wear brightly colored gear so that you are as visible as possible to other motorists. ALWAYS wear a helmet; according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 91 percent of those in fatal bicycle traffic accidents in 2009 were not wearing a helmet. You should also wear gloves, proper gripping shoes, tightly fitting clothes that will protect your skin if you fall.
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