Most people don’t know it, but the very first recorded car accident took place when a car struck a cyclist in 1896. Ever since that first accident, cyclists have been wary about traffic. Austin is not entirely bike-friendly, so as someone who enjoys riding a bicycle, either for pleasure, exercise, or for your work commute, you need to be aware of the risks and take appropriate safety precautions.
Put a Headlight on your Bike and Use it, Even When it’s Sunny
There’s a reason that today’s cars have headlights that automatically turn on. The headlights don’t make it easier for the driver to see, but it does make it easier for everyone else to see the car in bright conditions. The same is true of your bike. Attach a headlight and taillight to the bike and use them as soon as you hit the road. Passing motorists will be more likely see the light—and thus, you—and give you a wider berth.
At Intersections, Attract the Driver’s Attention
If you and a car are approaching an intersection at the same time, wave your arm to catch the driver’s eye. Knowing you’re there reminds them to use care and give you plenty of room. If the driver doesn’t make eye contact, assume they aren’t aware of your presence and take defensive action.
Stay Alert in Austin’s Bike Lanes
Don’t assume that just because you’re in one of Austin’s bike lanes that you don’t have to be aware of cars in your way. Austin motorists have a bad habit of assuming they can use the city’s bike lanes as parking spaces or turn lanes. If there is a car parked in the bike lane, take a look around your surroundings and consider how you’re going to get around them. If you need to swerve into the traffic lane, look for traffic and use hand signals to let everyone know about your plans.
Whenever Possible, Stay Off the Road
The best way to avoid a car/bike accident is not biking where the traffic is, which means planning a route that allows you to make use of alleys, bike paths, and roads where cars don’t often go. The route might add a little time to your bike ride, but that’s better than getting hurt.
Don Protective Clothing
The best way to prevent a traumatic brain injury is wearing a helmet each time you ride your bike. Not only will the helmet protect your head in a fall, but it also protects your brain if you pass too close to a tree branch or road sign. Make sure the helmet fits properly. If you do hit or drop your helmet, it’s in your best interest to replace it right away. One hard knock can decrease the helmet’s protective ability.
Use Hand Signals
Just like a blinker on a car lets other motorist know what your plans are, hand signals are the best way to alert passing motorists that you’re about to make a move. Even when there aren’t any cars around, you should use the hand signals for turning and stopping: that way, it quickly becomes a habit.
Why It’s Important to be Careful While Cycling in Austin
Careless drivers are always a concern of cyclists, but in Austin, you’re almost more likely to run into an angry driver than you are a careless one. Austin has the distinction of being ranked #9 on the list of cities with the highest number of road rage incidents. When this happens, try to defuse the situation by getting to a place of safety and not confronting the aggressive driver.
In Case of Trouble, Contact the Law Offices of George Salinas
You have as much right to ride your bike in Austin as drivers have to use their car. If you’ve been injured as the result of a car/bike accident, you can take the first step toward seeking compensation for your injuries by contacting The Law Offices of George Salinas online or by phone at (512) 851-1004. Our skilled associates can help guide you through this difficult ordeal while you focus on recovery.