Bicycling is a great way to stay in shape and help the environment, but it can also be a dangerous activity. Bicyclists are at higher risk of injury or death caused by a crash than occupants of a car, even though only 1% of all trips taken in the United States are by bicycle. Brain injuries are common in bicycle crashes, affecting 13% of the injured and involved in 66% of deaths. While car and bike accidents are very common, there are some steps bicyclists can take to stay safe.
Most cyclist deaths occur at non-intersection locations in urban areas. Some of the most frequent causes of car and bicycle accidents are a car pulling out into traffic and colliding with a cyclist and turning or opening the driver’s side door into the cyclist’s path. Whether they were leaving a parking lot, making a turn from a side street, or exiting a driveway, the driver rarely sees the bicyclist until it is too late.
One of the easiest ways to avoid bicycle accident injuries is to wear a helmet. Bicycle head injuries are not difficult to obtain, and a helmet is the best way to protect your brain in any incident. Even with a helmet, bicycling injuries can be severe, so it is important to avoid car and bike accidents whenever possible.
A great way to stay safe when bicycling is to stay visible. Every bicycle should have a headlight and a rear reflector, if not a tail light. Bright, reflective clothing will also help motorists see and avoid you. If you think someone might not notice you, wave. The added movement should attract their attention. If you still have doubts, honk your horn or yell. Better to look ridiculous than to be involved in a preventable accident. Avoid excessive use of your phone or music player, as they can be distracting, and always obey the rules of the road.
Making good choices with safety gear and cycling behaviors can help you avoid painful and inconvenience car and bike accidents. A safe cyclist is a happy cyclist.