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Bicycle Danger Zones: What You Need to Know

Posted in Blog on April 27, 2015

Even trained and experienced bicyclists can get into trouble when it comes to other vehicles on the road.

Professional cyclist Taylor Phinney from Boulder, Colorado, was injured in May during the US Cycling Championship in Tennessee. Now back home, Phinney was injured when he lost control of his bike after a motorcyclist acting as referee failed to pay attention and altered the pro cyclist’s path. His tibia shattered as a result, Phinney has now undergone two surgeries and months of physical therapy.

If a professional bicyclist can get into trouble with a distracted driver, it’s even more of a danger for those who use bicycles for their transportation, for exercise, or for leisure in the warmer months. People can stay safer, however, by knowing where the biggest risks are when they are out bicycling.

Watch Out for Intersections

Although an intersection is just a small part of an average bicyclist’s ride, statistics show that it is a hotspot for bike accidents. While only around 11 percent of all bike incidents involve a motor vehicle, Nolo reports that 45 percent of those take place at an intersection.

Intersections pose special risks for those on a bike for various reasons. In some cases, drivers tend to underestimate how fast or slow the bicyclist is approaching. People driving vehicles may also not be used to driving with bikes on the right-hand side and fail to keep an eye out for them.

A person on a bike may fade into the background because the bike is smaller than a car or motorcycle. Other things that can cause a bike rider to blend into the background include clothing colors and the glare of the sun.

Always try to be as ‘visible’ as possible when riding a bike. Items such as reflectors, lights, reflective or bright-colored clothing can signal a bicyclist’s presence to drivers in a much more direct way.

Be on the Defensive

Just as drivers are required in Colorado to pay attention and take reasonable care, bicyclists have an obligation to focus on their surroundings and react to danger in way that promotes their safety, as well.

Don’t allow yourself to be distracted when you’re on your bike, as precious seconds of reaction time can mean the difference between walking away or being seriously injured in an accident.

It is also wise to get some training. Even experienced bicyclists can learn some moves that may help them avoid accidents or minimize the chance of injuries in the event of an accident. Associations such as the League of American Bicyclists provide training information and tips to bike riders, including emergency maneuvers for potential accident scenarios.

Above all, learn the traffic rules. As a bike rider, you must know when to yield the right-of-way and when it’s your turn to go when you’re riding on a street. In Colorado, for example, you must always ride with traffic and not against the flow. Riding the wrong way can leave you with less reaction time, lower your visibility to drivers and increase your risk of an accident with a vehicle. Learn more at: www.zanerhardenlaw.com.

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