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Bicycle Safety Recommendations

Whether you ride a bike or use motorized transportation, bicycle safety recommendations speak to everyone’s driving behavior. The bicyclist needs to be proactive and ride defensively; and the vehicle driver desires to avoid a situation where injury may occur.

Bicycle Safety Recommendations: Start Early

The best way to learn bicycle safety begins with the child attending a sponsored training session(s) and ideally, frequent bike treks with parents or other knowledgeable adults. Adult supervision until the age of ten is advised since children lack the developmental skills to correctly judge speed and distance gap. Also, most kids under the age of ten do not understand traffic flow and concepts like "right-of-way".

New York law requires helmets for riders less than age 14. Although helmets do not prevent accidents, they are an effective protection against serious head injuries regardless of age and experience.

Before beginning bike travel, ensure that trousers will not get caught in the chain. Adequate helmet protection means positioning down towards the forehead and a snug, comfortable fit. For manageable control and handling, choose the appropriate size bike and adjust the seat for comfort.

Being streetwise and safe

Fall prevention includes things such as maneuvering ability when riding on loose gravel and advancing over railroad tracks at a right angle. To prevent accidents when descending hills, keep speed to a manageable level and use a pumping action on hand brakes to slow down. Hard braking can send a rider over the handle bars and stopping takes longer on wet pavement.

If you lack the finesse to maintain a straight path while looking behind you (that includes most of us), then invest in a mirror. Be aware that many motor vehicle drivers have a different perspective as they maneuver the roadways. A sudden change in course in an attempt to avoid debris in your bicycle path may catch the driver unaware – when a car is close to you choose to stop rather than swerve.

New York law permits riding two abreast except when a cyclist is being overtaken, but single file is safer for both the rider and the driver. The law also stipulates riding with traffic. A bicyclist riding against traffic causes vehicle driver confusion and adds risk for the rider. Bicyclists are also required to yield to pedestrians. When overtaking a pedestrian on a multi-use trail, signal your intent to pass.

In today’s world, mobile technology is great for staying in touch, but its use introduces another level of risk for the bike rider. The current fashion of bright colored athletic clothing is actually a reaction to distracted drivers. Attaching pulsing ultra bright lights to helmets and the front and rear of the bicycle are additional defensive actions.

Seasoned riders not wishing to become "door prizes" maintain a safe distance (3 feet is law in some states) from parked cars. Keep an eye on occupants of parked cars and watch for intent of movement, such as backup lights. As you move along the street, avoid moving in and out around parked cars. A steady path keeps you visible and predictable to the drivers.

Remember that your ride follows the same rules as vehicle travel.  Use enthusiastic hand signals to indicate turns and stops. Observe the signal lights, yield and stop signs. When riding in slow or stopped traffic, avoid the driver’s blind spot – take the lane so the vehicle driver stays behind you. Be obvious -position yourself in the left turn lane at intersections when making a left turn, and in the center of the lane when going straight. It is better to be noticed then having a car turn into you. Making eye contact before turning in front of a car confirms the driver’s attention.

Finally, promote safe and responsible driving by being a good example regardless of the vehicle you are driving. These are just bicycle safety guidelines. Contact Pulvers, Pulvers & Thompson for a bicycle accident lawyer in New York if you are involved in an accident.