Riding a bike is an exhilarating and rewarding activity, but it can also be a dangerous one if you bike on busy streets without adequate protection. While some accidents are arguably unpreventable, the vast majority of cyclist accidents can be avoided or at least mitigated.

What are the best strategies for cyclists to follow to accomplish this?

Handling an Accident


Even experienced, safety-conscious bicyclists can be involved in accidents. Here’s how to handle one if you end up in this position:

  • Prioritize your safety. Your first priority needs to be your own safety. Assuming you can move after the accident, get yourself to a safe position, preferably away from the road, away from other drivers, and away from other cyclists. Help others get to safety if you can, but avoid moving people who may have neck or spinal injuries.
  • Call an ambulance. Next, call an ambulance. You may not feel any pain from the accident, but adrenaline can mask the feeling of your injuries. It’s a good idea to be evaluated by a medical professional so you know the extent of the damage.
  • Preserve evidence. Collect evidence of the accident, to the best of your ability. That means taking photos and videos, talking to witnesses, and potentially filing a police report.
  • Talk to a lawyer. If a vehicle driver collided with you, and you were not at fault, you may be entitled to compensation. It’s a good idea to talk to a car accident lawyer like before accepting an insurance offer to see what your options are.

How Cyclists Can Avoid Accidents


These are the best strategies for avoiding accidents as a cyclist:

  • Obey the law (and any signs/signals you see). Some people treat bicycles as road vehicles. Others want their bike to be treated like a mode of pedestrian travel. No matter what your personal philosophy is, it’s your duty to obey the law; traffic laws are designed to keep you and other people safe, and if you operate your bicycle predictably, you’ll be less likely to be involved in an accident. Make sure you understand traffic laws as they apply to bicycles in your area; in most places, bikes are treated like cars, so they must obey stop signs, traffic lights, and other road laws, just as cars do.
  • Stay visible. The best thing you can do for your own safety is improve your visibility. If you’re more visible to other cyclists and drivers, they’ll be able to avoid you more easily. Riding only during the daylight, wearing brightly colored clothing, and installing headlights are just some of the easy things you can do to boost your visibility.
  • Stick to safe roads. Some areas are safer for bicyclists than others. In a best-case scenario, you’ll find infrequently traveled roads that are very wide and well maintained, with accommodations for bicyclists like protected bike paths. In a worst-case scenario, you’ll find busy, narrow roads that make no accommodations for bicycles. You don’t always have the luxury of planning your route perfectly, but when you do, stick to safer areas.
  • Signal appropriately. Bicyclists are responsible for signaling turns, just as motorists are. Use your hands and arms to show the people around you where you’re headed, giving them plenty of time to plan around your movements.
  • Ditch the headphones. Many bicyclists like to listen to music or podcasts while riding. This is a perfectly understandable preference, but headphones can limit your ability to hear and respond to your surroundings. Leave them at home or turn them down.
  • Ride responsibly. Ride your bike responsibly, keeping both hands on the handlebars, riding at a reasonable speed, and keeping your eyes on the road. You may feel perfectly capable of texting while biking, but just as texting while driving increases your risk of an accident, this will greatly increase your risk of getting hurt.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Stay mindful of your surroundings. If you notice strange behavior from other cyclists or vehicles, you may be able to react in time and avoid an accident.
  • Maintain your bike. Inspect your bike before taking it out and practice preventative maintenance so your bike remains in good operating condition. Mechanical issues could cause you to unexpectedly crash.
  • Wear protective gearWearing a helmet makes you 44 percent less likely to die from a head injury – and 33 percent less likely to break facial bones. Wear one, always, and consider other protective gear like wrist pads.

Adopting Defensive Riding Practices


Adopting defensive cycling is a key step towards ensuring cyclists’ safety on the road. This approach requires proactivity, caution, and alertness. Anticipating potential hazards, keeping safe distances from other vehicles, and staying aware of blind spots are crucial aspects. By adopting a mindset that other road users might not notice them, cyclists can strategically increase their visibility and reduce accident risks.

Understanding traffic flow and road dynamics is another facet of defensive riding. Cyclists need to be extra cautious at intersections, driveways, and turning lanes, where conflicts with motor vehicles often occur. Patience and yielding when required can avert risky confrontations and contribute to safety.

Investing in Cycling Education and Training


To further safeguard themselves on the road, cyclists can benefit from participating in cycling education programs and training sessions. These programs provide valuable insights into defensive cycling techniques, road safety skills, and best practices for handling various road conditions. Cyclists can learn how to read traffic patterns, identify potential risks, and navigate complex intersections with confidence.

Cycling education also covers essential maintenance tips, teaching cyclists how to inspect and maintain their bikes properly. Well-maintained bicycles are less likely to experience mechanical failures that could lead to accidents.

As you gain more experience as a cyclist, it will be easier for you to read situations and avoid unsafe conditions. But you’ll never be 100 percent safe, no matter how much experience you have – so remain vigilant and observant.