5 Ways to Avoid Bike Crashes

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Bicycles are a common site year-round in sunny Florida. With traffic quite heavy in Tampa and the surrounding areas, there are many ways that you, as a cyclist, might be injured in a collision with a motor vehicle. Bicycle crashes are an alarming problem in our state. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 139 cyclists lost their lives in Florida in 2014. This number was higher than in each of the previous nine years on record.

So how do you keep from becoming one of these tragic statistics? The following five tips may help you ride safer around traffic:

1. Don’t ride the wrong way. Your bicycle is a vehicle, and you should ride in the direction of motor- vehicle traffic. Whenever possible, use a bicycle lane. Drivers don’t expect to see bicyclists riding in the opposite direction of traffic when they’re turning out from a side street or driveway.

2. Be visible. Make sure your bike has reflectors on it. Use a light when cycling at night or dusk. Consider wearing a jacket with reflective tape or flashing lights.

3. Wear a helmet. You’re not required to wear a helmet if you’re over 16 in Florida, but helmets play a significant role in preventing serious head injuries in a crash.

4. When approaching an intersection or a car parked on the side of the road, it may be safer to ride farther out into the lane to become more visible to drivers and stay out of the reach of opening car doors. If you need to do this, you must take care not to impede traffic. If you ever feel in danger or overwhelmed, pull over to the side of the road and wait for the danger to pass.

5. Don’t stay in a driver’s blind spot. Your bike is much smaller and less noticeable than cars, SUVs, and trucks, and drivers are not always on the lookout for bicyclists. If you hover in a car’s blind spot, your chances of being sideswiped or struck while the vehicle is turning are increased.

Finally, understand that these tips are only meant to help you increase your safety – not to alleviate the duty of a a negligent driver to be careful and to avoid hitting you. Speak with a Tampa personal injury attorney at Wagner McLaughlin for advice if you were injured in a bicycle accident.