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Bicycle Safety

Principles of Bicycle Safety continued...

Obeying traffic rules can help ensure safe travel.

  • Cyclists need to follow the same rules as motorists. 
  • Always use correct hand signals before turning.
  • Ride in single file with traffic, not against it.

Use these guidelines to increase cycling safety:

  • Avoid major roads and sidewalks.
  • Announce your presence ("On your left") on bike and walking trails as you come up behind and pass pedestrians and other riders.

Enforcement and legislation can increase bicycle safety. Promote safety by supporting

  • The mandated use of protective devices (helmets, reflectors)
  • Bicycle-friendly community and community planning, for example establishing bicycle lanes and bike trails or rails-to-trails

Reasons for Bicycle Crashes

Most bicycle accidents occur when a cyclist falls or crashes into a stationary object. Crashes are more likely to occur in conjunction with adverse conditions related to:

  • Weather
  • Road conditions
  • Mechanical failure
  • Poor rider judgment
  • Excessive speed
  • Lack of attention
  • Breach of traffic regulations
  • Coordination problems

Although the rules of the road and right of way are the same for both cyclists and motorists, other factors contribute to the disharmony that can occur between cyclists and drivers. Many motor vehicle drivers are often simply not aware of the presence of a cyclist on the road. In low-visibility conditions or at night bicyclists are difficult to see. The use of reflectors and a bicycle headlight gives you greater visibility to drivers.

Problems with alcohol can contribute to accidents, and inappropriate alcohol use is not limited to motorists.

  • About 37% of traffic crashes that resulted in deaths of bicycle riders involved alcohol intoxication by the motorist or the bicyclist.
  • In about 28% of all bicycle-related fatalities, it is the bicyclist who was intoxicated, not the motorist.

Many bicycle crashes occur when a bicyclist is riding against oncoming traffic.

Many people assume that riding a bicycle on sidewalks is safer than on roads. However, the risk of injury increases significantly if you ride on sidewalks. This may be due to the presence of pedestrians and stationary objects (parking meters, for example) lining sidewalks as well as a preference by inexperienced bicyclists to use sidewalks for bicycle travel.

In addition, children who generally are not experienced riders tend to crash while riding a bicycle for the first time or while riding a bike they are unfamiliar with.

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