Stay Safe on Your Bike: Four tips to remember

September 26th, 2011 — 9:41pm

Arizona has the fifth highest bicycle fatality rate in the nation, with 25 deaths recorded in 2009.
– National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Leading factors in bicycle crashes involving injury or death:

  • Half occurred when a car was turning right.
  • Half occurred when a bike traveled counter to traffic.
  • A third involved a bicycle on a sidewalk.
  • Less than a quarter happened at night or at dusk.

ADOT study, as reported in the Arizona Republic Sept. 17, 2011

It’s that time of year again. It might still hit 100 (or more) in the afternoon, but the mornings and evenings are cooling off, and Arizonans are getting back in the saddle – the bike saddle.

Whether it’s an evening ride through the neighborhood with your kids, or whether you’re riding to Canyon Lake with your club next Sunday morning, this is a great time of year to get the two-wheeler out of storage and onto the pavement. While riding a bike can be a lot of fun, it comes with some potential dangers. From a bike-enthusiast and personal injury lawyer’s perspective, here are four safety tips to consider before you leave the relative safety of your driveway:

1) Use safety equipment. Bicycle helmets are not legally required in Arizona, but they are known to save lives and to prevent (or at least to minimize) life-changing injuries. Bike gloves can save your hands from road rash, give you a better grip, and provide a more comfortable ride. A headlight and a rear reflector or rear light are required for nighttime riding.

2) Follow the law—not the myths. Under Arizona, a bicyclist on the roadway must follow the same rules of the road as someone driving a car. However, the bicyclist generally needs to stay to the far right side of the roadway. Exceptions include passing another bicyclist or other vehicle, when avoiding an obstacle, or when making a left turn. Bicyclists are allowed to ride in crosswalks, but must use caution in doing so. On the sidewalk, bicyclists can ride in either direction, but only at speeds consistent with pedestrian traffic. Some cities have their own laws for cycling too.

3) Always ride defensively. The reality is that drivers don’t see cyclists. Basic physics and physiology dictate that you lose in the event of a collision with a car. There are two simple rules of thumb: a) always assume everyone is trying to run you over; and b) yielding—even when you have the right of way—is a lot better than getting hurt. Even if a collision would be the driver’s fault, you have more to lose than the driver.

4) Talk to your car insurance agent. When you fall off your bike on a trail, you might just get a scrape on your leg. But if you get hit by a car, the injuries could be severe, and the financial impact could be devastating. Many drivers in Arizona either do not have auto insurance, or their coverage limits are so low that they might not even cover your trip to the emergency room. Protect yourself. Make sure you have uninsured (“UM”) and underinsured (“UIM”) coverage, and get the highest coverage limits that your finances and good judgment allow. These coverages apply to you when you have a collision with a car, even if you are only a cyclist or pedestrian at the time of the collision.

With these safety tips in mind, it is time to get out and hit the road again.
Related Articles: State’s 1st bike-safety plan aimed at cutting fatalities

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