With the return of warmer weather, more cyclists are dusting off their helmets and bringing their bikes out from storage. And here at Quincy Mutual Group, we definitely understand why! Biking isn’t just a convenient way to get around — it’s also fun, allows you to easily incorporate exercise into to your daily schedule, and when used in place of driving, can help you reduce your carbon footprint. It’s important to remember, however, that whether you’re cycling for your commute, for exercise, or just for fun, safety should always be a priority. We all share the responsibility of keeping our roads safe, and to help, we’re offering up some important safety tips and reminders for both cyclists and drivers.
As a biker, you have the same rights on the road as motorists and are allowed to take up a full lane of traffic. But that also means you share the same responsibilities on the roadway to follow all traffic laws. Obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings, yielding to pedestrians and never riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs are all rules that must be followed by both bicyclists and drivers alike. In addition to following the rules of the road, there are precautions that bicyclists should take to stay safe.
Be Prepared — Before you ride, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper equipment and clothing to best prepare you for your ride. It is always recommended that you wear a properly-fitted helmet and perform the ‘a-b-c’ check before every ride. All it takes is 30 seconds to inspect the air, brakes, and chain on your bike. To help remain visible at night, you should wear bright colors or reflective materials and equip your bicycle with lights and reflectors. Having a bell on your bike is also a great way to alert drivers and pedestrians of your presence.
Be Predictable — As a bicyclist, you have just as much a right to be on the road as a driver. It’s still important, however, to keep certain safety precautions in mind every time you ride. Avoid weaving around traffic or parked cars, instead always ride in a straight line. Bikers should also get in the habit of using proper hand signals when changing lanes or making a turn, and not riding too close to parked cars to minimize your risk of being doored.
Be Focused — Always look ahead for traffic and any obstacles that may obstruct your way. It’s important to look ahead rather than at the ground right beneath you, as pedestrians could walk into traffic or a parked car could open its door in your path. You always want to give yourself as much reaction time as possible, and being aware of your surroundings is critical in doing this.
Be Safe — Avoid wearing headphones or using electronic devices while riding your bike. Listening to music or using your cell phone are both distractions that take your eyes, ears, and mind off of the road ahead and the traffic around you.
Be Informed — The more you ride, the more familiar you will be with traffic patterns and riding on the street. It’s also important to be familiar with available infrastructure. For example, you should always use a protected bike lane if available as this allows for a barrier between yourself and traffic.
Vehicles may have more wheels than bicycles, but they both have the same rights when it comes to being on the road. Just like a car, truck, or bus, a bicycle has the right to use the full lane and drivers must share the road. The most serious of bicycle crashes often involve motor vehicles, which is why it is also the responsibility of motorists to remain focused on the road and all traffic around them, including bikes. Here are some things drivers can do to reduce the risk of an accident and better share the road with bicyclists.
Pass with Care — It’s important to use extreme caution when passing a biker on the road. You may only pass a bicycle when it is safe to do so. This means you should allow for at least three feet of clearance before overtaking a cyclist.
Respect Bike Lanes — Be mindful of bike lanes. Do not use them for parking, passing, or turning, as you could force a cyclist to swerve into traffic to get around your vehicle.
Stay Alert — Always keep your eyes on the road. Never drive distracted or impaired and watch for bicyclists when making turns or changing lanes. Use your rear view and side mirrors to check that a cyclist isn’t in your blind spot.
Look Before You Open — In addition to looking for cyclists when driving in traffic, be sure to check for bicyclists before opening your car door roadside or pulling out from a driveway or parking space.
Here at Quincy Mutual Group, we know everyone’s preferred mode of transportation varies — but no matter how you get there, we want you to arrive at your destination safely. Help us make the roads safe for everyone by remaining alert this summer and throughout the year.
Are you looking for more ways to stay safe this summer? Be sure to read our guide to Summer Party Safety. And for all your insurance needs, please visit our website to connect with one of our over 500 independent insurance agents who are ready to help: bit.ly/QuincyFindAgent