Bicycle accidents are on the rise, and one such fatal bicycle accident in St. Petersburg last week highlights just how dangerous cycling can be. An unnamed person was killed when they collided with a car while riding their bike along Grandy Boulevard, and while this event is terribly tragic, it also serves as a reminder of the importance of taking safety precautions while bicycling. If you or a loved one is an avid cyclist, consider these tips to help you stay safe and avoid a bicycle accident.
Always stay alert
Being aware of your surroundings at all times when you’re riding a bike can go a long way in keeping you safe. This means observing the vehicles around you, paying attention to the flow of traffic, and being aware of what’s ahead (i.e., a busy intersection, a lane closure, etc.). It takes just a few seconds for the situation around you to change, and if you’re not alert, you can quickly find yourself in a dangerous spot.
Follow the rules of the road
Under Florida law, bicycles on the road are subject to the same traffic laws as motor vehicles. Cyclists must stop at red lights and stop signs, yield to pedestrians, and signal when they’re going to turn. Bicycles must also adhere to the same traffic flow as vehicles; in other words, you should be riding with traffic, not against it. Failure to follow traffic laws can result in accidents and possibly serious injury, so it is critical to familiarize yourself with these rules and stick to them just as you would if you were driving a car – if not more so.
Wear a helmet
Ask any personal injury attorney, and they’ll tell you that bicycle helmets can dramatically reduce the severity of injuries in a collision, and possibly even save your life. A good bike helmet can be purchased for less than $50, and it only takes a few seconds to strap it on your head before each ride. This is a minimal investment for something that can have a monumental outcome.
Other safety gear
While a helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment a bicyclist can have, there are other precautions that can be taken as well. One of the most common causes of bicycle accidents is because a motorist didn’t see the cyclist, so try wearing bright clothing or reflective accessories to make yourself more visible. For nighttime riding, it is also wise to invest in a headlight for your bike or helmet. Rearview mirrors are also commonly added on to bicycles, so cyclists can increase their awareness of what’s going on behind them.
Consider your route
Before hitting the road on your bike, think about which route you plan on taking. Are there any roads that are known for being congested or busy? If so, you may want to map an alternate route if possible. Heavily trafficked roadways increase the likelihood of a bicycle-vehicle collision, so avoid these if possible.
Make eye contact
When riding, try and make eye contact with motorists whenever possible. This is the only way to be sure that you have been seen, thereby reducing your risk for an accident.
It’s unfortunate that it takes a tragic fatal bicycle accident like the one that happened in Saint Petersburg to remind us all of the importance of bicycle safety. However, these accidents don’t have to happen in vain. Use the safety tips above to make bicycling as safe as possible for you and your loved ones.