The warm weather is here, and that means more Neenah residents are heading out for bicycle rides. For some, a bicycle is purely a recreational vehicle and for others, it is a primary mean of transportation to work, school, or to run errands. Any individual who rides a bicycle is at risk of being injured in a bike accident in Wisconsin.
Although you can never completely eliminate your risk of being injured in a bicycle accident, you can reduce it significantly by taking safety precautions when you ride. Safe bicycle riding starts before you even leave your home. Wearing a helmet shields your head from the trauma of hitting the asphalt or another object, reducing your chance of suffering a traumatic brain injury. Keeping your bicycle in good working condition, which includes using chain lube, keeping your tires inflated to a safe pressure level, and replacing your brake pads as needed will also reduce your chance of being injured in a bicycle accident.
When sharing the road with motorists and pedestrians, keep the following in mind:
Make yourself as Visible as Possible
It can be difficult for drivers to see bicyclists on the roadway, even in broad daylight. No matter what time of day you ride, take care to stay out of vehicles’ blindspots.
If you ride at night, you need to take extra care to make yourself visible. Wear white or light colored clothing and use reflective tape on your clothing, bicycle, and helmet to make yourself visible to drivers. A light on your bicycle or helmet can be a great way to make yourself visible when riding at night.
Follow the Rules of the Road
When you ride your bicycle on the roadway, you are subject to the same laws that govern motorists. This includes stopping at red lights and stop signs, signaling before making a turn, and yielding to traffic and pedestrians where appropriate.
Ride on the right-hand side of the road, just as you would when driving a car. Give cars enough following distance and never between lanes of traffic. Although this can be an easy way to get through tight traffic, it is also quite dangerous because drivers might not see you riding between the lanes.
Find the Safest Place to Ride your Bicycle
If there is a bicycle lane on the roads you use, this is the safest place for you to ride. Otherwise, you generally have the option to ride in the roadway or on the sidewalk. Check with your municipality to determine whether local laws prohibit bicycles on certain sidewalks or roadways. When you must ride in the roadway and there is no bicycle path, ride in the shoulder or as far to the right of the roadway as safely possible.
Designated bicycle trails are also a safe place to ride your bicycle. When riding on a trail, the sidewalk, or the roadway with another bicyclist, ride single file to avoid blocking others or creating a hazard.
Be Aware of your Surroundings at All Times
Just like you need to make others aware of your presence, you should be aware of your surroundings at all times. Do not use your cell phone while riding your bicycle. This diverts your attention from the roadway and can reduce your reaction time, putting you at greater risk of collision. If you ride at night, equip your bicycle with a sufficiently bright light to see the roadway ahead and to your sides. This will allow you to see potholes and other roadway hazards like uneven pavement and debris.
Do not wear earbuds while riding your bicycle. Hearing can be as important as sight when riding in public, so make sure that none of your senses are compromised when you are riding. If you plan to ride through an unfamiliar area, take some time to research the area’s roadways and traffic patterns beforehand.
Be careful when riding around parked cars, particularly when riding to the immediate left of parallel parked cars. It is not uncommon for bicyclists to be hit and seriously injured when car doors are swung open in front of them.
Work with an Experienced Appleton Bicycle Accident Lawyer
A bicycle accident can leave you suffering from severe, sometimes permanent injuries. If you are in this position and facing significant expenses, consider working with a member of our team of experienced Appleton personal injury attorney to seek compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. Contact Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today to set up your initial consultation in our office.