It’s spring again, the snow has melted (sort of), and despite what mother nature has been telling us so far this season, bicycles will be sharing the roads with us soon. While for some of us it is important to be on our bikes enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, it is also important to do so safely.
Some Drivers Have Forgotten They Need to Watch for Bicyclists
In Massachusetts, we live in what is called a humid continental climate with warm summers and cold, snowy winters. Most drivers have spent the last 6-7 months driving, not seeing bicycles on the road with them. While the transition to sharing the road may come easy for some, others may not make the adjustment right away, and some not at all.
For many, nice weather means riding your bike to work. According to BikeLeague.org, National Bike Month is May 2018, Bike to Work Week will be May 14–18, and Bike to Work Day is on May 18.
Tips for Avoiding Bike Accidents
Not every cycling accident on the road involves a car or truck. Some collisions are between pedestrians and cyclists, particularly in cities where biking to and from work is common. If you plan on riding your bicycle in a crowded, busy city like Chelsea or Boston, here are a few tips from bicycling.com that may help:
Avoid the door zone:
Car doors are the most insidious hazard facing the city rider. Opening doors swing directly into the space that bikes occupy, and they’re difficult to anticipate. The only way to avoid getting doored is to assume that every single door in your path will open. Always leave a door-sized space when passing any stopped car—not just parked ones. If you’re forced to squeeze through the door zone, slow down to walking speed and look for warning signs: brake lights, taxi cab vacancy lights, and the side-to-side rocking of passengers getting ready to scoot out. Style points for stiff-arming any door that opens next to you.
Beware of the right hook:
This is when a car passes a cyclist traveling the same direction, then immediately turns off the road and across the rider’s path. Make a habit of glancing over your left shoulder (if you’re on the right side of the road) in the approach to every intersection, exit ramp, or driveway. Merge early to straddle the line between turn lanes and through traffic. If cars ahead slow to make a turn, slide by on their outside, instead of ducking between them and the corner.
Pass behind pedestrians—not in front of them:
A pedestrian’s natural instinct is to jump forward and away from trouble, rather than stopping and retreating. Riding your bike through the space behind pedestrians leaves no question as to who is yielding, whereas a risky game of chicken ensues if you try to shoot by ahead of them.
Other types of cyclists on the road are the weekend warriors. In New England, there are lots of weekend cycling events. In May, there is the North Shore Tour de Cure. This 63 to 100-mile ride starts at the fairground in Topsfield MA (home of the Topsfield Fair) goes as far north as Derry New Hampshire, circles back down through Newburyport, Ipswich, Gloucester and ends back in Topsfield.
Whether you are a driver or a cyclist, it is your responsibility to share the road with others. Put down your mobile phones and other objects that may distract you while driving. Be aware of your surroundings and courteous to other drivers. The minute or two that you’ll save is not worth the potential life-changing injury you may cause or experience by driving aggressively.
Keep in mind, while you as a cyclist are expected to observe all of the same traffic laws as drivers, committing a traffic violation does not give someone else the right to hit you. Drivers must make an effort to avoid bicycle accidents even if an illegal action occurred. If a cyclist is riding on a sidewalk or crossing at a red light, the driver of the vehicle may still be legally responsible if an accident occurs.
Call a Personal Injury Lawyer if You're Hurt
Spada Law Group provides Boston quality legal representation without the commute into the city with free on-premises parking. We are here to answer any questions you may have. If you’ve been in a bicycle or any type of accident involving a motor vehicle, call Spada Law Group today at 617-889-5000 to discuss your situation. The consultation is free, and there is absolutely no obligation to hire us. We are open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.