Bike Safety

Cycling is becoming more and more popular both as a form of transportation and as outdoor recreation. Here are some helpful tips to encourage safer riding and avoid potential injury.

Wear A Helmet

Utah remains one of the 14 states that do not require helmets when riding a bicycle. Although it is within a cyclist’s legal rights not to wear a helmet, it is in his/her best interest to always wear one. 63% of all bicycle fatalities, in 2009, resulted from traumatic brain injuries. In addition to these fatalities, 67,000 cyclists suffered serious head injuries, many of which could have been prevented by simply wearing a helmet. Overall, helmets reduce the risk of head injuries by 85%. Further analysis of these statistics can be found here

Basic Safety Guidelines

While you can never control the behavior of reckless or inattentive motorists, you can greatly reduce your chances of being injured in a bicycle accident by following some basic guidelines. Those who cycle in urban areas are especially susceptible to injury and should take extra precautions.

  • Follow the Rules of the Road Bicycles are (in most cases) legally considered moving vehicles in the State of Utah. Accordingly, cyclists are required to obey all traffic signs and lane markers.
  • Ride WITH Traffic Never ride against the flow of traffic, as motorists are not expecting you to be coming towards them. Always cycle on the right-hand side of the road.
  • Be cautious when passing on the right Utah cyclists are allowed to use the shoulder to pass slower moving vehicles on the left, but only as long as they can do so safely; oftentimes, when passing on the right, you are moving into a driver’s blind spot. Furthermore, this is a new amendment to Utah Law, and some motorists may not expect this behavior.
  • Don’t use headphones while cycling It’s important to listen to the environment around you. Listening to an iPod or radio can be distracting, and is especially dangerous in urban areas with heavy traffic.
  • Dress to be seen: Even during the day, wear brightly-colored clothing so motorists can easily spot you. At night, utilize reflective clothing to stand out in the dark.
  • Use lights at night: In accordance with Utah Law, each bicycle must be equipped with a headlight in front, and a rear red reflector in the back.
  • Use proper Hand Signals: Cyclists must give proper hand signals in order to turn right, left, change lanes, or stop.
    1. Left turn—left hand and arm extended horizontally.
    2. Right turn—left arm extended with the elbow turned up 90º and forearm extended upward, or, right hand and arm extended horizontally.
    3. Stop or decrease speed—left arm extended with the elbow bent down 90º and forearm extended downward (§804).

Because so many of our clients have come to us for help after being injured in a bicycle accident in Utah we published the Bicycle Accident Handbook that you can request for free and learn about how to protect yourself from the pitfalls of a bicycle accident. This handbook provides important information on the before, during and after of a bicycle accident, and how you can receive the compensation you deserve if injured. Request our book today and receive a link to a downloadable PDF!

Image courtesy of Christensen & Hymas.

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