In a lot of ways, California is known as the driving capital of America, if not the world. Where else are so many people absolutely defined by their vehicles, their routes to work, and even their carbon footprint for transportation? The state requires some of the most stringent emission requirements across the nation and is even eyeing all-electric engines for the future.
If you are a bike rider, you are already ahead of the curve when it comes to the environment and your personal responsibility for the climate. But where does this leave you in terms of your own safety on the road?
Every year in California over 10,000 bike riders are injured and over 100 are killed. And these were the people riding around, just like you, trying to reach their jobs or their loved ones at home. When bike riders are struck down, it is a relatively subtle event on the road. There is far more focus on truck and car drivers and even pedestrians than on cyclists. But it is an event that will have a huge impact on your life.
That is why we want to take a moment here and focus on the vulnerable commuters out there; those who bike. There are things to keep in mind to avoid trouble, and the resources out there to help you in the event of an accident.
Safety for Bike Riders
Respect Traffic Guidelines
Use bike lanes whenever possible, there is a wealth of them in California. If that is not an option, make sure you can follow the normal rules of traffic. You should be stopping at red lights and stop signs. Try not to be overly hesitant, but stay defensive. Cars are less likely to see you than other drivers on the road.
Stay Safe and Visible
Wearing flashing lights, reflective tape or a combination of these markings on your bicycle is a great start, especially at night. You may want to also wear a neon or light-up vest. Wearing a helmet is not required by law in California for those under 18. The best advice is to wear one anyway. Going without a helmet is a fast way to turn an accident into a fatality. Invest in a model with good coverage that has a high safety rating.
Keep your Bike Well-Maintained
It’s less obvious than when you own a car, but a bike must be kept running, oiled, and in good repair. Have your brakes tested at your first sign of any slipping, and look out for any degradation of the handlebars, especially if you rest your weight on them. For your own convenience, you may want to travel with a tire repair kit. That way you won’t find yourself stranded, especially at night.
Dealing with Accidents
If the worst does occur, and you do find yourself in an accident, make sure to seek medical attention immediately. Ask someone for help if you are unable to make a call on your own. If you are able, note any details of the other bikers or drivers and ask for any contact information from witnesses around you. You should also get in touch with a trusted attorney to go over your rights and best interests.