Summer Bike Commuting Means More Crashes—Be Alert!
With summer in full swing, people across the Twin Cities are biking more frequently. This includes many workers who take advantage of the great weather by riding their bikes to the office. As more cyclist-commuters take to the streets, and the greater our numbers are out there, we see a correlated increase in bike/vehicle crashes. And, unfortunately, it’s the vulnerable bicycle riders who tend to bear the brunt of the damage in those accidents.
Drivers of cars and trucks need to better understand how to share the road with bicyclists; that is true. And our annual road construction, with its barriers and route changes and flashing lights, doesn’t make it easier on drivers. It is also true that we cyclists should do everything we can to protect ourselves on the road.
5 Tips for Protecting Yourself This Summer
Whether you’re commuting via bike or riding for exercise or just for fun, follow these tips to help you stay safe on the road:
- Follow the rules of the road: Minnesota bicyclists are allowed to use nearly all public roads, with a few exceptions (e.g., when signs are posted that notify you that biking is prohibited). When you’re on the road, always obey traffic signals and make sure you understand who has the right of way. And, just like when you’re in a car, drive defensively—not aggressively.
- Use bike lanes or other designated space: Whenever you can, ride in areas that are designed for bicyclists. Minneapolis has miles and miles of bike lanes, with even more being built right now, as well as a variety of parks and trails that are designated for bikes. Stick to these areas to avoid putting yourself in harm’s way.
- Watch for pedestrians: Although vehicles are the most obvious risk to riders, it’s important to realize that pedestrians will be sharing the space, too. Watch out for people who are running or walking, and be sure to use an audible signal before overtaking a pedestrian.
- Wear bright clothing: It’s easy for drivers to miss seeing cyclists, so wearing brightly colored clothing can help you get noticed.
- Use lights and reflectors at night: Many bike accidents occur at night, when it is most difficult for drivers to see bikers. Try to reduce the risk by following Minnesota law, which requires you to equip your bike or yourself with “a lamp which emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front; and a red reflector . . . which is visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet in the rear.” You can also comply with the law by equipping your bike with lamps that are visible from at least 500 feet from both the front and rear.
If You Are Involved in an Accident
Unfortunately, even following all the safety rules doesn’t shield all riders from harm. A careless or intoxicated driver could still cause a crash and leave you injured.
If you or someone you love is hurt in a bike accident this summer, you should speak with an attorney about your options for compensation. There are insurance issues to sort through, many of which are complex. A good lawyer can help you navigate the process.