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Crashes can happen, but taking due precaution can dramatically lessen the chances.
As a cyclist, I have had some moments where I thought, “this is how I am going to go.” As a lawyer, I have encountered tragic bicycle crash cases. Many of the types of crashes I see could often be avoided if people regularly reviewed bicycle safety. Whether you are a bona fide safety guru or a casual rider, it is important to review and familiarize yourself with some bicycle safety rules to help prevent your commute to work from becoming an unwanted commute to the hospital.
It sounds obvious; repetitive; redundant, but there are countless things that inadvertently divert our attention to the road. Whether it is a catchy advertisement, a runner down the street, or an irritating, partially deflated, and not-quite-the-way-I-like-it tire pressure, losing focus could result in a mangled frame, or a fractured clavicle.
A simple way to eliminate distractions is to maintain your bike before your commute. Look for imperfections. Test your brakes, are they going to stop you when a car unexpectedly merges in your lane? Make sure your derailleur will shift according to command. Fill your tires with the right amount of air. Even thinking about how you regret not filling up your tires before you left home this morning is enough to divert your attention. In college, my friend rode an old road bike with a brake handle that would fall off every time he used it. Much of his commute to school was spent adjusting, repairing, while still riding to make it to class in time. Don’t be him. If your bike is broken, fix it. Don’t ride on it; much of your focus will be on your bike, and not on the road.
No matter what safety precautions are put in place, crashes will still happen. We can’t account for the unexpected. States and communities, however, are constantly trying to enact new laws and programs that will increase safety for you on the road. For example, some states have a strict three foot rule that requires cars to give cyclists at least three feet whenever they are passing. It also allows cars to cross the center lines (even if it’s a double yellow) to do so. Some states incorporate the “Idaho Stop”, allowing you to roll through an intersection. Other states require you to stop and wait 90 seconds before safely proceeding through a red traffic signal. Laws like these are important to know. It gives you the power of confidence as a cyclist and informs you as a driver. So, know your stuff. Take the time to study rules of the road in your state to know what you can and cannot do. Just remember, bikes in the U.S. are considered vehicles and as a default are required to follow the same principles.
Contact us for a free manual with advice from what to do in a cycling crash to getting the right insurance policy (yes, cyclists need insurance). Note: the manual is based upon Utah laws; however, the principles of cycling are universal. Article by the Accident Injury Lawyers at Christensen & Hymas