Be bike smart: Follow these tips to help prevent accidents

Follow these tips to stay safe on your bike

By now, most of us understand that it is good for our health to get outside for some exercise, and good for the environment to try and drive a little less. Riding a bike is a great way to accomplish both of these goals. But, if you choose to use a bike for transportation, it is important to take steps to protect your own safety and the safety of others on the road.

Why is bicycle safety important?

While bicycling is relatively safe, real dangers do exist. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 743 cyclists died in collisions with motor vehicles throughout the United States in 2013. Another 48,000 bicycle riders suffered injury related to a motor vehicle accident.

Although Rhode Island does tend to do better than the national average when it comes to bicycle safety, accidents still happen far more frequently than they should.

Tips for staying safe on your bike

When you're on your bicycle, there are some steps you can take to help avoid accidents or minimize the risk of injury if an accident does occur. Consider the following:

  • Ride with traffic: For the most part, Rhode Island law treats bicycles the same as motorized vehicles. This means cyclists should ride on the road (unless there is a designated bike path) in the same direction as traffic. Cyclists should stay as far to the right side of the road as is practical.
  • Signal turns and stops: Learn the hand signals for turning and stopping, and use them whenever you ride. Signaling your intentions helps others predict what you're going to do so they can respond accordingly. Remember, just like other vehicles, cyclists are required to stop at stop signs and red lights.
  • Stay visible: Do your best to make sure others can see you. Ride where drivers would expect you to be, and be extra careful when making turns or riding near parked cars. At night, be sure to use front and rear lights, and wear light-colored or reflective clothing.
  • Wear a helmet: Rhode Island law requires every cyclist age 15 and under to wear a helmet at all times. Even though it's not technically required by law, it's a good idea for adults to wear helmets as well. In a crash, a properly-fitting helmet can literally mean the difference between life and death.

What to do if an accident happens

Sadly, even the best-equipped and most careful cyclist cannot completely eliminate the risks posed by distracted, intoxicated or otherwise negligent drivers.

If an accident happens, it is important for injured cyclists to know they have rights under state law. If the crash was caused by another person's negligence, the injured victim can pursue financial compensation for losses including medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. In fatal crashes, the victim's family may have a claim.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by a negligent driver in Rhode Island, the attorneys at Karns Law Group may be able to help. Our office provides free initial consultations to accident victims, where we can explain your legal rights and help you understand your options for moving forward.

Keywords: bike accidents, bicycle accidents, personal injury