There are many ways it can happen, but motorists are a major reason for bicycle and pedestrian accidents. These accidents aren’t all that different from car-on-car motor vehicle accidents, with one major caveat; the severity of injuries. When a car strikes another car, the passengers and operators involved are protected by metal frames, bumpers, and airbags. Alternatively, when someone on a bicycle has an altercation with an automobile, the result can be road rash, lacerations, broken bones, or even death. The standard advice of “wear a helmet” and “follow the law” is important but there is more to keeping yourself safe.
Increased awareness of your surroundings may save your life
A major contributor to bicycle and pedestrian accidents is the lack of awareness from those driving automobiles and trucks. They’re not typically looking for you when they make that turn at an intersection or open their door into your path; they’re looking for other cars. So, how do you make yourself more visible?
- LED or other bright flashing lights, even during the daytime
- Reflective clothing to bounce sunlight or headlights
- Warning horn or whistle to bring attention to others around you
Now that you’re easier to see, let’s work on your awareness:
- No headphones – Losing a sense while on the road is not an option. Even tri-athletes are disqualified for using them because of the safety hazard they pose.
- Get a mirror – These are inexpensive and once you start using one, you’ll wonder how you got along without it. It can significantly increase your rear awareness.
- Stay out of a vehicle’s blind spot – For example: at a red light, stop behind the car instead of next to it.
- Ride as though you were invisible – Operate under the assumption that cars do not see you.
- Rough road and road debris – Some roads just aren’t made for bikes. Try to avoid them, when possible.
- Don’t assume you’re safe just because you’re in a crosswalk. Cars turning corners quickly may not have the response time required to avoid you.
- Roads without sidewalks, crossing streets that have more than three lanes, and 3-way intersections are the most dangerous for pedestrians. Try to plan your routes accordingly.
Wear a helmet and follow the law!
This means using hand signals, obeying traffic lights, and moving with traffic. It may sound obvious, but people still disregard these simple rules and end up paying dearly as a result.