5 Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents And How To Avoid Them
Biking is a great way to get some fresh air, see the sights, and reduce your carbon footprint. Not only is it a popular form of recreation but also a major mode of transportation. In the US, the number of bicyclists gradually increased in the past decade to nearly 50 million.
But similar to walking and driving, cycling also carries risks. The number of bicycle-related crashes increased 36% since 2010.
According to a paper on bicycle-related injuries, most involve cyclists riding at high speeds. The most serious injuries and fatalities are caused by vehicle collisions. Tissue injuries and trauma are the usual results of accidents, but head injuries are responsible for disabilities and deaths.
There have been a total of 843 bicyclist deaths due to motor vehicle collisions in 2019 and well over 500,000 ER visits from cycling-related traumatic brain injuries in just the last ten years.
With these grim figures, you’d think that the road is mostly unsafe for bicyclists. But there are ways to avoid bicycle accidents. Read on to learn how to ride safer.
5 Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents and the Best Ways to Avoid Them
What are the main causes of bicycle injuries?
#1 Roundabouts and T-Junctions
Accidents are often caused by motorists neglecting to give way to bicyclists when turning. Drivers often argue that cyclists don’t make themselves visible enough by wearing bright clothing or using bicycle lights. But the same argument is often made when the accident occurs in broad daylight, which means that wearing a different colored jacket or using more lights won’t always result in a better outcome.
Best practice: Ride defensively
Maintaining focus and awareness on road traffic greatly reduces the chance of getting into bicycle accidents. Being defensive is the key to preventing road mishaps. It’s always easier to recognize potential dangers in advance than to react to avoid the disaster.
Be mindful of junctions and avoid riding in the blind spots of other vehicles. They might suddenly turn without sending a signal and you’ll find yourself caught in an accident you could have avoided.
#2 Overtaking and weaving
Heavy traffic can push even the best of us to become impatient, leading us to weave through slow-moving riders and stationary vehicles. It’s not hard to see why these actions are amongst the common causes of bicycle accidents.
Best practice: Use lights and hand signals
Blinking lights are crucial in areas with poor visibility. They tell motorists how fast you’re approaching, giving them enough time to react. These rear lights for cycling are easy to find and cost less than $15. With such affordable options available nowadays, there’s no excuse not to use them for improving bicycle safety.
Always use hand signals before changing directions. Communicate your intent to other people on the road to avoid bicycle accidents. As a reminder, take note of the following guidelines:
- When stopping, extend your left arm to the left and angle your forearm downward.
- When turning right, extend the right arm perpendicular to your body.
- When turning left, extend the left arm perpendicular to the body.
Importantly, don’t skimp on wearing the proper gear, especially a proper-fitting bike helmet.
#3 Parked vehicles
You might expect that it should be second nature for drivers and passengers to look over their shoulders before getting out of the vehicle in the middle of a busy street. But people often forget about bicyclists and just swing doors wide open, knocking them off their handlebars.
Best practice: Give space
The liability may easily fall on the people in the vehicle, but you can just avoid the situation altogether.
When you see people getting in and out of the vehicle, that’s already a signal to keep your distance. Either slow down or completely stop and let everyone get in or out of the car before you overtake.
In passing parked cars, remember to leave a bit of room. Put a reasonable distance between you and the car doors so that you’ll have time to react.
The road itself can pose dangers to bicyclists and other motorists. Potholes can be very dangerous and lead to bicycle accidents that result in injuries.
Best practice: Adopt accordingly
When cycling on a poorly maintained road, adopt a more central position. This can help you avoid potholes and bumps that are often found on the edge of the road. Ride at slower speeds so you can react on time.
#5 Texting while riding
This may sound absurd, but this happens sometimes. Technically, it’s not illegal in some states to text while bicycle riding. But to avoid bicycle accidents, it’s best to stay focused on the road.
Glancing at the phone is more common since many bicyclists mount their phones on the handlebars. But this is equally dangerous. A few seconds off the road can quickly turn into a life-threatening incident.
Best practice: Use the TASL app
With the ‘This App Saves Lives’ mobile app, you earn rewards for not using your phone. It helps keep your focus on where it should be and rewards you for ensuring bicycle safety.
Earning TASL points is simple. Install the app and complete the sign-up process. The app has a set-and-forget feature that lets it load and start automatically when it detects you’re riding your bike. For every minute you ride undistracted, you earn a TASL point which you can exchange for exciting rewards.
Through the TASL app, you’ll keep your focus on the road and avoid bicycle accidents. You’ll also earn rewards points that can be exchanged for discounts and freebies from popular brands. It’s a win-win situation that will get you hooked.
Traffic Laws and Regulations for Promoting Safe Road Behaviors
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advocates the best practices in road safety and bicycling habits through education and enforcement. They supply informational resources and instructional materials to help keep cyclist safety, whether we’re on a bicycle or car. They also come up with new things that will encourage us to go out there on our bikes and harmoniously share the road with other motorists and bicyclists.
The NHTSA believes that with our help, we can improve safety for all road users. We can do our part by not taking chances when behind the wheel or on the bike. Even the slightest distraction can lead to accidents, regardless of the kind of vehicle we’re driving.
Cycling laws in the US vary per state, but there are road rules that apply wherever you are in the country:
- Never ride against the traffic flow. Always drive on the right-hand side of the road.
- Stay in designated bike lanes. Bicycle lanes are designed to make it easier for motorists to see vulnerable road users, thus reducing risk factors.
- The slowest vehicles should be on the rightmost lane. Always pass on the left.
- Position yourself depending on the location of the parked vehicles, your destination, and your speed.
- For lanes used in more than one direction, use the rightmost lane in the same direction you’re traveling.
In the US, bikes must have lights, reflectors, and brakes. Cyclists must also wear a bike helmet appropriate for their age.
Making the Road Safer for Everyone
When you bike ride, you share the road with thousands of motor vehicles and pedestrians. Taking precautions and sticking with bike safety can go a long way in preventing cycling injuries, whether it’s on unpaved roads or paved paths.
We should always keep our focus on the road, regardless if we’re cycling or driving. The TASL app is designed for this very purpose and is highly effective in positively reinforcing the best practices in road safety.
Try it now!