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How Can I Protect Myself While Riding a Bicycle?

By Ross Testaiuti, Law Clerk

By Ross Testaiuti, Law Clerk

Before using your bicycle, make sure it is ready to ride. You should always inspect your bike to make sure all of your bicycle parts are secure and working properly.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides the following recommendations for you to protect yourself while riding a bicycle:

  • Wear a Bicycle Helmet that Fits. Wearing a bicycle helmet that properly fits protects your head and your brain from the potential impact that results from the damage.
  • Properly Adjust Your Bicycle Seat.  The seat is aligned evenly from the front of the seat to the back. Your seat should be tall enough to allow your knees to slightly bend while your leg is fully extended. Finally, your handlebar should be the same height and level as the seat.
  • Check Your Tires. Before taking your bike out for a ride, it is essential to ensure your bicycle tires are adequately inflated. Conduct a thorough examination to confirm there are not any punctures, leaks, or signs of tire damage. Moreover, take the time to inspect your tires for any lodged debris, such as rocks or nails. are not popped nor have any inflated with air and check that your bicycle’s brakes are in working order.
  • Check Your Breaks.  To inspect your bicycle’s brakes, start by visually checking for any damage or misalignment. Gently squeeze the brake levers to ensure they offer consistent resistance
  • Make Yourself Seen. It is crucial that you, as a cyclist, are seen. Wear clothing that is vibrant and makes yourself easily visible to other patrons on the road. Many bicycle accidents are caused by other drivers or cyclists crashing into someone because they do not realize they are there. If possible, wear something that reflects light like a reflective vest.
  • Watch Out! Be alert and avoid hazards such as roadwork, potholes, manhole covers, gravel, and glass. You should also be aware of other people, whether they are driving a car, riding a bike, or walking a dog.
  • Avoid Riding at Night. Opting to avoid cycling at night is a safer choice due to heightened risks compared to daytime riding. The reduced visibility during nighttime makes it more challenging for others to see you. Should nighttime biking be unavoidable, wearing attire with high visibility is crucial. Equally important is the inclusion of front and rear reflectors on your bike, including white front lights and red rear reflectors which are legally required in many jurisdictions. Enhancing visibility with tire reflectors is also recommended.

Numerous accidents involving bicycles stem from the behavior of cyclists themselves. These actions encompass forgoing helmet use, entering streets without stopping, making sudden turns or swerves into traffic from behind, ignoring stop signs, and cycling against the flow of traffic. To prioritize your safety, consistently wear a helmet and diligently observe traffic laws.

Factors That Cause Cycling Injuries

According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA):

 “The two main types of crashes: falls, which are the most common, and crashes with motor vehicles, which are the most serious. Irrespective of the cause behind the collision, the key focus remains on prevention. Several measures can be taken to mitigate the likelihood of an accident. To start, familiarize yourself with these bicycle safety statistics the NHTSA has provided:

  1. Bicyclist deaths are highest during the summer months between June and September.[1]
  2. Nearly three-quarters of all bicyclist deaths occur in urban areas.
  3. Failing to yield the right of way is the highest factor in fatal bike crashes, followed by bicyclists not being visible.”

If you or a loved one has been in a cycling accident, please contact the experienced New York attorneys of Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP for a free consultation today.

[1] The reason why cycling deaths are so high during these summer months is due to the warm weather. Because the weather is warm, more people want to ride their bicycles. Currently, we New Yorkers have been experiencing unseasonably warm weather, which has led to more people choosing to ride their bicycles in months that are typically not as warm. So going forward, it is likely that the deaths are going to increase in months where the weather will be warm due more people choosing to ride their bicycle because of the warmer weather in these non-summer months. 

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