Bicycling is a great way to exercise, spend time outdoors, and generally stay healthy. With the weather getting nicer and May being National Bike Safety Month, we wanted to offer some safety tips for both cyclists and drivers. After all, they often must share roads, and as a result, injuries can happen. Outlined below are precautions that each group should take into consideration ahead of time, as well as on the road.
Check Your Cycling Equipment Before Leaving Home
Prior to leaving for a bike ride, take a few minutes to check the following items:
- Seat Positioning: Your seat should be set to the proper height so that you can quickly dismount if necessary and not wobbly.
- Tires: Check that the tires are inflated properly.
- Gears: Ensure your bike gears are secured and lubricated.
- Brakes: Check to see that your brakes allow you to easily and gradually stop the bike. If not, consult with a bike shop.
- Pedals: Make sure the bike’s pedals are secured and not damaged.
- Lights: Mount a forward and rear light to help you be seen on the road.
- Helmet: Your helmet should be properly sized to your head (not overly loose) and feature MIPS protection.
- Handlebars: The handlebars should be positioned according to your riding style and locked into place.
- Your Route: Map out your biking route and aim to use existing, marked trails, such as those in the Baltimore Greenway Trails Network.
Follow the Rules of the Road While Biking
Once you’ve started pedaling, make sure to keep these rules in mind. In Maryland, bikes are considered vehicles, meaning you need to obey the same laws as when you’re driving a car.
- Ride with the flow of traffic, ideally in a marked bike lane.
- If no bike lane is present, ride in the shoulder and maintain at least three feet between you and cars.
- Remain alert, keep your head up and look around.
- Watch for opening car doors and other hazards on the road.
- At intersections with traffic signals, obey them like you would in a car.
- When overtaking a slower cyclist, pass from the left and call out with your intention to pass.
Be Mindful of Your Surroundings
Drivers, like cyclists, have an obligation to operate their vehicle safely in order to protect others sharing the road:
- Slow Down: Yield to bikers as you would other drivers at intersections or when turning.
- Maintain Three Feet of Distance: Anytime you encounter cyclists on the road, keep three feet of distance and only pass when it’s safe to do so.
- Check Your Blindspots: When your views are obstructed by other vehicles, like in parking lots and parallel parking situations, take extra time to check your surroundings before pulling out.
- Use Your Horn Sparingly: Avoid spooking cyclists with your car horn unless absolutely necessary.
Use the “Dutch Reach” When Opening Your Door
The “Dutch reach” is a simple, yet important way to keep you and cyclists safe when opening your car door. Check out this tutorial from Outside magazine.
When an Accident Happens, a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
Even with the best planning and precautions, bike accidents can happen. Should you be injured in one, hiring a personal injury lawyer might be a good option. When you do, you will be provided with a tailored approach that matches your case’s specific needs. Additionally, your attorney will make sure your rights are protected and you get the justice you deserve.
If you are seeking an experienced Baltimore area personal injury law firm, feel free to contact one of our offices. Call (410) 870-9090 for our Downtown Baltimore location or (410) 284-6060 for our Dundalk location. Alternatively, you can submit a written request for consultation using our contact form.