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Bicycle Safety Guide: Top 20 Tips for Riders

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Top 20 Tips for Bike Safety

Top 20 Tips for Bike Safety

Nov 17, 2021

Biking in California is a popular activity. Whether for leisure, exercise, or commuting to and from work, bike riding is particularly popular here in Los Angeles. In fact, a 2016 report from the League of American Bicyclists confirmed that the City of Angels ranked fourth among major U.S. cities with the largest number of riders on their streets.

Bicycle Safety Guide: Top 20 Tips for Riders

Given the number of bike riders here in Southern California, Dordulian Law Group (DLG) has put together a comprehensive and detailed list of safety tips.

Below we will provide said tips in detail as well as include some statistics on bicycle crashes, injuries, and fatalities. We’ll also review how to file a personal injury claim with DLG in the event that you are harmed by another bicyclist, motor vehicle driver, or pedestrian.

Bicycle Safety Statistics

Data compiled by the National Safety Council (NSC) confirms that preventable deaths from bicycle accidents have increased a staggering 37% in the last 10 years. In 2010, 793 preventable cycling deaths were recorded. That figure jumped to 1,089 in 2019.

Additionally, the NSC confirms the following bike accident statistics:

  • The number of preventable nonfatal injuries increased 7% from 2018 to 2019.
  • The number of preventable nonfatal injuries has, however, actually declined 40% over the past decade – from 515,861 in 2010 to 308,864 in 2019.
  • Bicycle-related deaths peak in the summer months (starting in June) and remain high through September.
  • In 2019, the most bicycle-related deaths occurred in August (125) with the fewest occurring in January (63).

The National Center for Health Statistics offers some further “mortality data” related to bicyclist accidents:

  • Of the 1,089 bicyclist deaths in 2019, 712 died in motor vehicle crashes.
  • 377 bicyclist deaths in 2019 were a result of other incidents.
  • Males accounted for 88% of all bicycle deaths – over seven times the number of fatalities for females.

Data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirms the following statistics:

  • 846 bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2019.
  • That figure represented a 3% year-over-year decrease (down from 871 in 2018).
  • Bicyclist deaths accounted for 2% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2019.

Furthermore, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) confirmed 417,485 emergency department-treated injuries involving bicycles and bicycle accessories in 2019. According to the CPSC’s data, that estimate includes both preventable and intentional injuries as a result of bicycle-related incidents.

How Do Bicycle Helmets Affect Safety?

In 2001, a meta-analysis of bicycle helmet efficacy published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimated that bicycle helmets:

  • Reduce the risk of head injury by 60%
  • Reduce the risk of brain injury by 58%

According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, as of March 2021, 22 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 201 localities had bicycle helmet-use laws in place.

Is it Legal to Ride a Bike on the Sidewalk in California?

Technically, there is no statewide law prohibiting bike riding on California sidewalks. However, California Vehicle Code Section 21206 provides local governments with the power to pass regulations related to the use of bicycles on public sidewalks.

In the City of Los Angeles, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is permissible so long as the bicyclist does not demonstrate “willful and wonton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

In cities such as West Hollywood, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is permitted, but only when traveling “with traffic” and if no bike lane is available.

In Glendale and Beverly Hills, bicycles are not allowed on sidewalks in business districts.

DLG’s Top 20 Bicycle Safety Tips

  1. Wear a helmet: Though we’ve noted the bicycle helmet efficacy study above and this particular recommendation should go without saying, it’s so important that it deserves to be our #1 tip. Given the potential for serious injury or even death when riding a bike while helmetless, this is a no-brainer.
  2. Ride a properly fitting bike: According to the NHTSA, there should be one to two inches between a bicyclist and the top tube (bar) if using a road bike, and three to four inches if using a mountain bicycle. The seat should be level front to back, with the seat height adjusted to allow a “slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended.” Additionally, the NHTSA recommends a bike’s handlebar height be at the same level with the seat.
  3. Check your tires: Before heading out on a ride, check and confirm that your tires are properly inflated.
  4. Check your brakes: Brakes are, to say the least, quite important. Accordingly, check to be sure they are working properly before riding your bike.
  5. Make yourself seen: Regardless of what time of day or what sort of whether conditions are present, bicycle riders should make themselves as visible as possible. This often means wearing neon, fluorescent, or bright colors so other cyclists, motor vehicle drivers, pedestrians, and even wildlife can more easily see you.
  6. Be vigilant in seeing others: Car, truck, motorcycle, and even scooter drivers may not always exercise proper caution when traveling near bicyclists. As a result, bike riders are urged to err on the side of caution and not assume that another motor vehicle driver or pedestrian is paying attention.
  7. Ride with two hands: Never operate a bicycle with one (or no) hands, especially while on busy streets or sidewalks.
  8. Obey all traffic laws: Red lights and stop signs are there for a reason, and should be adhered to just as if you were behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
  9. Ride with traffic: While it might seem counterintuitive, riding into traffic can actually expose you to much more danger and a potential for an accident when compared to driving with traffic.
  10. Always ride alert: This means keep your eyes on the road, but also never ride your bike while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
  11. Ride with others: Riding with another bicyclist can help ensure that, in the event you let your guard down and aren’t paying attention (even momentarily), your partner can help alert you to any potential dangers.
  12. Travel along a known/familiar route: Bicycling often appeals as an adventurous sporting activity, but by riding along routes that you know and can easily navigate, you’re less likely to be involved in an accident.
  13. Travel with a tire patch/repair kit: Easy to carry and extremely helpful in the event of a flat tire, a tire patch/repair kit should be an essential part of your accessories.
  14. Travel with a water bottle: Up to 60% of the adult human body is water, according to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158. Especially when on long trips, water is essential.
  15. Yield: Cars, trucks, and even motorcycles have a lot more protection than you as a bicyclist. Yield accordingly.
  16. Don’t drive aggressively: Going hand-in-hand with the recommendation to yield, bicyclists are also encouraged to never let anger or hostility (even if a motorist cuts you off) affect your judgement.
  17. Don’t pass on the right: Just like when you’re behind the wheel, passing on the right is strongly discouraged and commonly leads to accidents.
  18. Pay attention to road conditions: Watch for potholes, loose gravel, uneven surfaces, and other roadway hazards, especially when traveling at high speeds.
  19. Avoid riding at night whenever possible: Riding in the daylight significantly reduces the potential for an accident and possible injury.
  20. Use a bike path if possible: Bike paths are much safer (and perhaps even more enjoyable) than having to deal with motor vehicle traffic on streets and pedestrians on sidewalks. More importantly, bike paths may lead to fewer bicyclist injuries/fatalities.

If you experienced a personal injury, don’t wait to file a claim. Contact our expert attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

Can I File a Lawsuit if I’ve Been Injured in a Bicycle Accident?

If you’ve been injured while riding your bike due to the negligence of another motor vehicle driver or pedestrian, you may be eligible to recover significant financial compensation for damages such as hospital or medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and even emotional trauma.

DLG’s bicycle accident lawyers are standing by to review your claim and offer legal guidance as well as an estimate of how much your bike accident claim might be worth. We will fight aggressively on your behalf to recover maximum financial compensation for all applicable damages – both economic and non-economic.

To arrange for a free and no obligation consultation with a Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyer today, contact DLG at 818-322-4056. There is never any fee until we successfully recover maximum financial damages for your bicycle accident injury.


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