May is National Bike Month!  There are so many fantastic reasons to get into cycling. It’s a joint-safe way to help you lose weight, reduce stress and get into shape.  Commuting to work on a bike can save you money, while simultaneously helping the environment. The SFMTA recently reported an estimated 82,000 bike trips in San Francisco per day. (Just imagine what our streets would look like if all of those people were driving alone in cars.) However, like many other sports, there are risks associated with bicycling — including the possibility of a collision or fall. But by taking some basic safety precautions, riders can stay safe on the road.

Reduce Chances of a Bay Area Bicycle Accident — Bike Safely!

  1. Have the right safety gear.  This includes a helmet, bell or horn, working brakes, reflectors, bright or reflective clothing, and headlights if you’re riding in the morning, evening or at night.  Perhaps the most important of these items is a helmet, which can prevent traumatic brain injury, or even death if you’re involved in an accident.  While California law only requires a helmet for cyclists under 18, it is a smart idea for everyone to wear one — especially when riding in Bay Area traffic.  Riders should also consider installing a mirror on their handlebars to keep an eye on traffic behind them, and traveling with a mini tool kit.
  2. Learn and follow the rules of the road. Bike on the right side of the road in the same direction as traffic.  Follow all traffic signs and directions, just as drivers are required to do.  This includes stopping at red lights and stop signs, and obeying yield and other signs.
  3. Use bike lanes or paths when available. In California, bicycles are generally prohibited on freeways or expressways, and for good reason; cycling alongside cars going upwards of 60 miles per hour can be incredibly dangerous!  Check local ordinances before hitting the road to find out if there are any additional rules for bicycles in your city.
  4. Practice safe habits to reduce the risk of an accident.  Start each ride with a quick bike check by inspecting tires, brakes, cranks and chains.  When on the road, ride single-file in a straight line to make it easier for cars to go around riders.  Steer clear of drivers’ blind spots, and keep an eye out for parked cars to avoid running into an open door.
  5. Reduce distractions: don’t use your phone while biking, and never drink and bike.

Whether you bike for exercise or to reduce your carbon footprint, being safe on the road is a top priority.  May is National Bike Month, but as the NHSTA reminds cyclists and motorists alike, bike safety must be observed every day!

If you are in an accident, try to document the scene with photos, or by writing down important details like time, location of the accident and the contact information for anyone else involved.  If you are contacted by an insurance agency looking to settle the claim, don’t talk to anyone about the accident or sign anything before talking to an attorney.  Consulting an experienced Oakland bike accident lawyer will help to protect your legal rights. Contact the Law Offices of Edward Casey for a free evaluation.