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Bicycling: Your safety is on the line

After a cold, dreary winter, you may be among the many in Pennsylvania who are eager to get back on your bicycle. Whether you bike to work, for exercise or for pleasure, by yourself or in a group, riding a bike is one of those childhood joys that carries over into adulthood without apologies. Unfortunately, along with the joy comes the danger.

Each year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other agencies track and evaluate the statistics related to bicycle accidents and injuries. While statistics may seem impersonal, they may help you and others realize how important it is to use caution and be defensive when you are biking among traffic.

Be a proactive bicyclist

You may be one of the increasing number of people who are using their bikes to get to work. Some cities are taking steps to make roads safer for you and other bikers by including bike lanes, slowing the speed limit for other vehicles and adding safety zones for bikes at intersections. This may be the reason why traffic accidents involving bikes are declining. Unfortunately, the number of fatal bike accidents is on the rise.

In any accident that involves a large vehicle and a much smaller vehicle, the occupant of the smaller vehicle is at a disadvantage. On a bike, you risk severe trauma to your bones, your spine and your internal organs. Even if you are wearing your helmet, you may be vulnerable to a traumatic brain injury. To avoid this, safety advocates for bicyclists recommend that you take some of the following precautions:

  • Learn the rules for cyclists, including proper hand signals and your right-of-way in traffic.
  • Do not expect that other drivers know the law regarding bicyclists.
  • Always wear your helmet.
  • Avoid riding at night, which is when most bike accidents occur, and wear bright colors and reflective gear if you must bicycle after dark.
  • Do not assume other drivers see you even during the day.
  • Plan your route to include roads with less traffic, slower speeds and more accommodations for bikers.
  • Don't allow distractions, such as earbuds or your cell phone, to keep you from giving your attention to the potential dangers around you.

You may take all these precautions and others and still end up the victim of a devastating accident if another driver is distracted or reckless. Injuries from a car versus bike accident can be life-changing, and you have the right to reach out for help. A skilled attorney can advise you of your rights and options for pursuing the compensation you deserve because of another driver's negligence.

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