Bicycle accidents can end up being some of the worst on the road due to the fact there is no metal cage surrounding riders to protect them from any serious harm. Even wearing protective gear can sometimes prove useless in the most unfortunate cases. But there are things that we as cyclists can do to try and avoid being in an accident from making sure our bicycle is safe to ride, to being aware when we are on the road.
What are the main causes of bicycle accidents?
Cars are without a doubt the biggest cause of accidents to cyclists on the road, and with the number of them rising due to factors such as staying healthy and environmental health the number of accidents is equally rising.
There are many cases in which a car can cause an accident, and one of the more common causes is being distracted whilst at the wheel, a phone call could pop up on their mobile, or a favorite song might come on the radio taking a bit of their attention from the road which can be fatal to a cyclist sitting in the blind spot of a vehicle.
If you do find yourself in a situation where you’ve had an accident and you’re unsure of what to do, the professionals at kazlaw.ca suggest that you should first take care of your injuries. Secondly, you should gather evidence and draw a diagram of what happened in your accident, this is a vital step if you choose to pursue a personal injury claim. Finally, you should seek legal advice before talking to the ICBC.
First of all, we should look at who has right of way, if there’s a stop sign coming up then start slowing down and get ready to thoroughly look to see if there are any other vehicles coming your way. This is applicable to both cyclists and motor vehicles.
Once all is clear then we can continue on with our journey. There are many incidents recorded where a cyclist has right of way on an intersection and is hit side-on by a car that hasn’t looked, or has ignored any traffic signals instructing them to either slow down or stop.
Being in a rush to get somewhere doesn’t give anyone the right to put another life in danger, and that’s unfortunately what happens on a daily basis.
Even when driving narrow roads, drivers in charge of a motor vehicle should enforce a 3-foot passing gap between a cyclist and themselves. If everyone did this it would significantly reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers hitting the front wheel of a bicycle when overtaking.
The door zone
This is an accident that involves a bicycle passing a parked car, and the door of that car being opened at the perfect time to knock the cyclist off. Something that can be so easily avoided as long as both parties are aware of each other.
Anyone getting out of a car should check all surroundings before doing so, especially if they’re getting out onto an active road, there are mirrors on the car for that exact reason. Cyclists when passing a parked car should have it in the back of their mind that someone might get out at any point without checking, so make sure your surroundings are clear and give the parked car a wide berth.
Left and right turn
This happens on both sides of the road and is usually caused by the driver of a motor vehicle. When a motorist turns left into the path of an oncoming cyclist it’s because they haven’t seen them, they aren’t paying attention, or they have chosen to try and beat them to the turning. When a motorist hits a bicycle when turning right, it’s because they either haven’t checked their mirrors or they aren’t aware of a bicycle being there. In this instance, a cyclist can be the cause if they were trying to undertake the vehicle.
A cyclist pulls out of their driveway and gets hit by a vehicle. It’s hard to blame a motorist in this situation as any cyclist pulling out of any junction, especially their own drive, onto a road should be aware of other traffic. A motorist, however, when traveling along a road that’s lined with drives should drive at a sensible speed and be aware there might be cyclists and other vehicles joining the road.
Accidents happen at crosswalks all the time and it’s down to people not being aware and not paying attention to anyone that might be waiting to cross, or already crossing. Motorists should always wait until everyone has finished crossing the road.
If you’re taking a ride and you haven’t looked after your bicycle in years, then something is bound to go wrong. Having a wheel come off when going 20kph isn’t going to end well and could end up endangering others around you.
How can I avoid having an accident?
Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where an accident is completely unavoidable due to factors that are outside of our control, but more often than not we can avoid an accident by remembering a few simple steps and ensuring our equipment is in order.
Always be aware
This is one of the most important things we can do as cyclists to ensure our safety on the roads. If our journey involves crossing multiple intersections, whether they are quiet or not, we should always be looking in advance to see if there are any other cars or trucks approaching.
The same goes for when we are passing any turning, we should make sure there are no other vehicles indicating to turn into the lane we are passing.
Assume motorists haven’t seen you
If we adopt an attitude that states no other motor vehicle has seen us straight away, then we will be more in control of the outcome of a situation. It’s better to slow down and wait to see if a vehicle has seen you than to be lying in a hospital bed asking the question, “why didn’t you see me?”.
Wear the right clothing
Make sure you are wearing brightly colored clothes or high visibility sections of clothing when you are riding, this brings the visibility up and will reduce the amount of time it takes for a motorist to see you. Always make sure you’re wearing a helmet just in case the worst happens.
Have the right equipment
If you’re riding at dawn, dusk, or in the evening then having a front and rear light on your bicycle is absolutely essential for your own safety. In most countries, it’s against the law to ride on the road without a safety light.
Keep your bicycle safe
Ensure that you are performing regular maintenance checks of your bike. This is best performed before you go out to check that your tires are a safe PSI, your brakes are working, your gears are oiled and running smoothly, and any moving parts are secure.
Having an accident is devastating to everybody that’s involved. Making sure we are aware of and paying attention to every possible risk on the road will reduce the chance of an accident happening. The next time you’re out on the road, remember where the majority of accidents happen and think of what you can do to keep the situation in your control.