Cyclists and drivers are both responsible for safely sharing the roads and both can take actions to prevent the more common types of accidents. Drivers must be alert to others on the road, including bicyclists, and avoid distracted driving, especially cell phone use and texting. Obeying all traffic laws, paying attention to signs and traffic signals, allowing a minimum of three feet of clearance when passing a bicycle, and respecting the legal right of cyclists to share the road will go a long way to reduce the number of accidents.
In addition, there are things a careful cyclist can do to avoid collisions with cars. We will be discussing these in more detail in the next week.
Today, we’d like to single out three of the major causes of preventable bicycle accidents that cyclists should avoid: riding on the left side of the street, against the flow of traffic; riding on sidewalks; and riding at night without proper lights.
Riding a Bicycle Against the Flow of Traffic
Don’t be a bike salmon. It’s dangerous! Some cycling safety experts estimate that in Florida, as many as 45 percent of accidents result from cyclists riding against the flow of traffic. Drivers entering the road are looking the other way and won’t see you, there is no way to make a safe right turn, and the force of impact with a car will be greater if you’re hit head-on.
Riding a Bicycle on a Sidewalk
It may feel safer, but by some estimates, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk doubles your chance of being hit by a car. Crossing streets between sidewalks is hazardous. When you leave the sidewalk and enter the street to cross, you are especially vulnerable to cars turning right that don’t expect a bike to enter the crosswalk. When on the sidewalk, it is easy to be hit by a car pulling out of a parking lot or driveway.
Riding a Bicycle at Night Without Proper Lights
By some estimates, as many as 60 percent of bicycle accidents in Florida are caused by cyclists riding at night without lights. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that 39 percent of bike rider fatalities nationwide happened between 6 p.m. and midnight. Florida law requires that a bicycle operated between sunset and sunrise be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from 500 feet to the front and both a red reflector and a lamp on the rear exhibiting a red light visible from 600 feet to the rear. Additional lights and reflective clothing are recommended.
Visit our website regularly to learn more about safe cycling in Florida or to request a free copy of Jim’s recent release, the Florida Bicycle Accident Handbook.
Jim Dodson is a cyclist and a Florida personal injury lawyer with more than 25 years of experience helping injured cyclists recover money after being injured in collisions with cars. If you’ve been hurt while riding your bike and want to find out if you are entitled to compensation, call Jim Dodson Law at 888-207-0905.