With summer in full swing, it’s a great time to explore your city on a bike. Whether you’re on a leisurely ride or racing through the streets on your commute, cycling can be a great way to see your locale, get some exercise and get from point A to point B. However, like any time you travel on the road, biking comes with certain risks, and it’s important to be aware of the common mistakes that riders make, potential injuries and how to protect yourself.
With more riders on the roads, bikers are more commonly getting into accidents with other riders. Even at slow speeds, two bikes colliding can cause tremendous physical injury to each rider. Injuries can range from bumps and bruises to broken bones and concussions. Typically, cyclist-on-cyclist accidents happen in congested areas when one or both riders are riding too fast. When you’re riding in a congested area it’s important to obey traffic laws and slow down around other riders. If you’re on a bike path with blind turns, it’s critical to slow your speed around turns. Some of the most serious injuries occur when two riders collide head-on at high speeds around turns.
Cyclists constantly have to share the road with other riders, cars and pedestrians. This means cyclists have to be extra alert. In many cities, there are bike-specific lanes for cyclists, but in some areas, you may find yourself riding on sidewalks and sharing space with people out walking or running. Even though you’re not in a car, you’re in a vehicle that is capable of causing harm to pedestrians nearby. Always follow the rules of riding and give people nearby a verbal warning when you are passing them.
The most serious type of injuries occur when a cyclist is in an accident with a car. An average, 800 people die each year in the U.S. from cycling accidents, often from collisions with cars. Even though you may be sharing the road with cars and in some cases, may have the right of way, it’s important to be extra cautious when riding around vehicles. In any accident with a car and a bike, the cyclist will probably come out on the wrong end. It’s important for riders to act as if they were cars by obeying traffic laws, signaling their moves and making themselves visible to cars on the road. Accidents commonly happen when a car is taking a turn and doesn’t see a biker coming from the opposite direction. While it’s the driver’s responsibility to be aware of all of their surroundings, it’s also the cyclist’s responsibility to slow down when crossing intersections and limiting themselves from risky situations to reduce potential injury.
While there are risks that come with biking, a smart cyclist can greatly reduce their risk of harm and injury by following a few guidelines. Riders should always wear protective gear, including a helmet. Wearing a helmet can reduce serious injuries in an accident by up to 85 percent. Bike riders should also wear reflective clothing, especially if you’re riding at night or when there may be limited visibility. Make it easy for other pedestrians, riders and vehicles to see you on the road.
When you’re riding a bike, it’s also critical for you to follow rules that apply specifically to cyclists. In some cities that may include staying in bike lanes and off of sidewalks. When riding a bike on the road, make sure that you act as if you’re in a car and use hand signals to indicate to others where you’re going.
Finally, it’s important that you check your bike’s equipment before riding, just as you’d check your car before a big trip. An equipment malfunction can lead to an accident. Make sure your gears are working, tires are inflated and reflectors are attached.
If you’re in an accident
Even if you take all the precautions, there can still be a risk of getting hurt in an accident. If you are in an accident while biking, seek medical attention immediately. As you weigh your recovery options, consider chiropractic care. Chiropractor professionals are trained to work with patients who experience many of the injuries that are common after a cycling accident. A chiropractor can create a unique recovery plan specific to your needs that can get you back in the saddle again.
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