Riding a bicycle is one of the best ways to get regular exercise. Whether you are cycling to stay in shape or to lose a little weight, the popular activity can provide a lot of benefits to your overall health. However, riding a bicycle can also be one of the most dangerous physical or recreational activities, particularly in and around Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is one of the busiest cities in the country, with thousands of cars, trucks, vans, buses, and motorcycles lining the roads at all hours of the day and night. You might think that you are prepared for what can be thrown at you when riding, but our bicycle accident lawyer in Los Angeles has a few bicycle safety tips you should follow all the time in today’s blog.
(1) Make Sure the Bike is in Good Working Order
Bike maintenance is one of the most important ways to keep yourself safe when riding a bicycle in Los Angeles, according to our bicycle accident lawyer. Whether you ride once a month or daily, you should perform a full check of your bicycle before going out for a ride. Your check should include the following:
- That the tires are properly inflated
- That your reflectors are not cracked or missing
- That your brakes work properly
- That the seat is secure
- That the bicycle safety lights are working
- That the handlebars are secure
- That the chain is installed properly
- That there is nothing stuck in the spokes
(2) Wear All of Your Safety Gear
If you own a helmet, knee pads, a reflective vest, and protective eyewear; be sure you wear all of this bicycle safety gear each time you are on your bicycle. If you don’t own all of this gear, consider making the investment. It could save your life one day or prevent you from suffering a traumatic injury.
The helmet and the reflective vest are the most important pieces of bicycle safety gear you can wear. The helmet protects your head during impact. Whether you are hit by a vehicle or you simply fall off your bicycle because of a pothole or other road debris, you need to protect your head at all costs. Bicycle helmet safety is so important that you should never ride without a helmet, even if you are going to the corner store and returning home.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) discovered in a study that you can reduce the chances of suffering fatal injuries in a bicycle accident by almost 60 percent. The study looked at the 843 fatal bicycle accidents in the country from 2010 to 2019.
The reflective vest helps drivers see you at night. Even if you ride during daylight hours, consider wearing a reflective vest. Don’t purchase just any reflective vest either. Purchase the ones that emergency personnel are required to use when operating at roadway incidents, the class II high-visibility vest.
You should also consider purchasing bicycle safety flags. Flags help motorists notice bicyclists and make it easier for motorists to see where the bicyclist is going to travel. They also come in bright colors.
(3) Wear Bright Colored Clothes
Aside from a helmet and reflective vest, some of the best safety tips for riding a bicycle include wearing bright colored clothes. You should never wear dark clothing when riding a bicycle, not even during daylight hours. The brighter the clothing, the more likely it is you will be seen by motorists.
(4) Avoid Riding in Inclement Weather
If at all possible, do not ride during inclement weather. It’s just not worth it, unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you must ride, make sure you have waterproof gear you can wear. You should always avoid riding in thunderstorms as the risk of being struck by lightning increases when outdoors.
(5) Protect Yourself From the Harmful Rays of the Sun
Don’t forget to protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun. Going for a bicycle ride shouldn’t turn into a bout with sun poisoning, so be sure to wear sunscreen and cover as much of your skin as possible.
(6) Communicate with Other Bike Riders, Motorists, and Pedestrians
Make sure you learn how to be a communicator when riding your bicycle in and around Los Angeles. Communication is important to avoiding accidents and keeping yourself alive. Communication includes the proper hand signals, a bell or horn, and your voice. Even though motorists might not hear you, communication methods help make you more visible to drivers, pedestrians, and other bicyclists.
(7) Learn the Proper Bike Hand Signals
Communication will only be effective if you learn the proper bike hand signals. Just waving or flailing your arms won’t do the trick when on your bike. Bikes don’t come equipped with turn signals or brake lights, making it much more difficult to tell others around you where you are headed. Be sure to use the following hand signals when riding your bicycle:
- To come to a stop or slow down, place your left hand downward at a 90 degree
angle with your palm open.
- To make a left turn, straighten your left arm to your side.
- For a right turn, have your right arm extended to your side.
- When making an alternative right turn, have your left hand placed upward at a 90
degree angle with your hand remaining flat.
(8) Be Alert
As important as it is to make yourself visible, you also need to be alert. This means you should never ride with earbuds in or by playing loud music on a speaker that is in your bicycle’s basket. Avoid using your mobile phone while riding too. If you need to answer a text, email, or call; be sure to pull off somewhere safe.
(9) Bring Water
If you are going for a long ride, make sure you pack a big water bottle. You don’t want to become dehydrated when riding your bicycle. Try to maintain an average bicycle speed of a few miles per hour to avoid overexertion if you are just getting back into exercising.
(10) Use Both Hands on the Handlebars
Always ride using both hands on the handlebars. Riding with one hand can easily lead to you losing control of the bicycle. Our bicycle accident attorney has seen too many accidents that have been caused by careless riding.
(11) Practice Safe Riding on Sidewalks
According to The City of Los Angeles bicycle safety law, it is legal to ride a bicycle on the city’s sidewalks. However, the bicycle safety law requires that you operate the bicycle with regard “for the safety of persons or property.” You should not zip between pedestrians, dart out into traffic, or fail to stop at intersections controlled by traffic lights. You still need to follow the rules of the road when riding a bicycle on the sidewalk.
(12) Look for Debris in the Road
You need to be vigilant for debris in the road. This includes sand, rocks, potholes, animals, sticks, and anything else that can cause you to crash. Bicycle accidents don’t only involve other vehicles or fixed objects. Road hazards can turn a nice bike ride into a nightmare for you and your family.
(13) Obey the Rules of the Road
Bicyclists are viewed in the eyes of the law as motorists because they are riding a device that has wheels. For this reason alone you are required to obey the rules of the road at all times in California. This includes all of the following:
- Riding with traffic
- Using hand signals
- Yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks
- Obeying stop signs and traffic signals
- Only pass other bicyclists on the left side
- Ride in a single file line
- Follow at a safe distance
Riding with traffic is one of the most important rules of the road to follow. Many bicyclists believe that riding against traffic is safer because oncoming motorists will see them. Riding against traffic is dangerous, makes it more difficult for motorists to see bicyclists at intersections, and can easily lead to a head-on accident with serious consequences.
Passing another bicyclist or a vehicle should never be done on the right side. Passing should always be done on the left of other bicyclists. All bicyclists riding together should also ride in a single file line to avoid spilling over into the vehicle’s lane of travel. Passing a vehicle on the right side could be deadly.
(14) Always Make Eye Contact with Motorists
You should always make eye contact with motorists when riding your bicycle. Eye contact helps motorists anticipate your next move and you know that they have seen you when you connect. Making eye contact with motorists also helps to enforce the right-of-way rules of the California roads.
(15) Ride Confidently
Finally, our bicycle safety checklist concludes with riding confidently. When you ride your bicycle confidently, you improve your chances of avoiding an accident. Have confidence in your riding skills and the safety measures you utilize with each ride. You will create a safe environment around you when you ride with confidence.
Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one was injured in a bicycle accident, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. The Shirvanian Law Firm is an experienced bicycle accident law firm dedicated to fighting for our clients. Call our office at (877) 809-4223, or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation today.