Safety Tips for Bicyclists

Maricopa County’s beautiful weather makes the valley an ideal place for bicycle enthusiasts. The well-maintained and convenient canal system provides easily traversable thoroughfares for bicyclists. Cyclists are also on the streets, and unfortunately, they can be seriously injured if they are struck by a car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 51,000 cyclists were injured and another 630 were killed in bicycle-car accidents in 2009.

The Arizona laws for bicycles are designed to decrease the likelihood that you’ll have an accident:

  1. If you are riding your bike on the road or on the shoulder of a road, you must follow the same rules as cars. This includes using turn signals with your arm and stopping at stop signs.
  2. Very few streets have bike lanes. If you are riding on the road, stay to the right-hand side, unless you’re making a left-hand turn. If you cannot ride at the speed of traffic, do not obstruct other vehicles.
  3. Do not carry anything with you on your bike that does not allow you to put at least one hand on the handlebars.
  4. If you ride at night, you must have a light on the front of your bike that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front.  Duct taping a flashlight to your bike can be sufficient as long as it is bright enough. You must also have a red reflector on the back that is visible from at least 50 feet when hit by a car’s head lamps set on the high beams.
  5. Cyclists are generally allowed to ride on the sidewalk, but check the city rules for any limitations. For example, cyclists in Tempe can ride on the sidewalk, but they must ride in the same direction as the road traffic.

Here are some additional safety precautions for cyclists for avoiding collisions:

  1. Always wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet can reduce your risk of head injury by 85%.  In 2008 and 2009, 91% of cyclists who were killed by cars were not wearing helmets.
  2. The law only requires a light for night riding. Wearing light colored clothes, a reflective belt or vest, and adding reflective tape and extra lights to your bike will make you more visible.
  3. Assume that drivers are not paying attention to you. Drivers often do not stop behind the line at stop signs. At intersections, drivers who want to make a right turn against a red light often don’t stop or pull into the crosswalk without looking for pedestrians and cyclists who have the right of way.

If someone you love has been injured or killed in a bicycle-car accident, contact the Phoenix lawyers at the personal injury law firm Oracle Law Group

Photo credit: HeyRocker from Flickr