In a world where the effects of global warming are palpable, switching to more sustainable modes of transport like cycling offers a healthy alternative that leaves a much smaller carbon footprint. Alongside being more environmentally friendly, cycling is a great way to stay in shape and maintain your fitness and stamina, offering an intense but enjoyable form of exercise.
That said, there’s no getting around the fact that while cycling on the road, you are far more exposed to physical harm from accidents than in a motor vehicle. Bicycle accidents are more likely to cause serious injury than crashes in total but only slightly more likely to result in death. Since 2013, only 0.2% of Denver’s crashes have caused a fatality. Your helmets and pads are the only things insulating you from the impact, so it is paramount to be vigilant and well-prepped to prevent this from happening. Before discussing these preventative measures, it is crucial to establish what to do if an emergency does strike.
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How To Deal With A Biking Accident
Sometimes even the most precautious attitude cannot prevent an accident due to the negligence or recklessness of another biker or driver. If you find yourself in such a situation, here are the steps to follow:
- Move away from oncoming traffic to a safer location
- Check yourself for any bruises, wounds, or injuries
- Call the emergency services to report the accident. Wear an emergency tag with contact and medical insurance information for your identification, even where incapacitated.
- Gather evidence, like taking photographs of the incident and retrieving the personal information of the negligent driver/biker.
- If the cause of the accident is a negligent driver, pursue legal action. Depending on the state, you can get a generic personal injury lawyer or one specialized in dealing with bike accidents. It is easy to find a bicycle accident lawyer in Denver, with the city ranking in the top 10 in the country for cyclers, but harder in states like Nebraska, which don’t have many cyclists.
- Seek medical assistance, even where the injuries appear minor, as you may suffer from a concussion or some other internal issue that requires immediate examination.
Use Proper Gear
Proper gear makes you more visible to other bikers and drivers while protecting vulnerable parts of your body should you be involved in an accident. No biking trip, however small, should be undertaken without proper equipment.
Your safety gear should include a helmet that meets the standards established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Get a helmet that fits your head and isn’t too loose for maximum protection. Get a cycling pad to protect your groin from rashes caused by friction and chafing created by the motion of biking. Wear bright, reflective clothing so oncoming traffic can see you, and get front and rear lights for your bike to increase visibility, especially if you plan to bike at night.
As a biker, it helps to be cautious about the routes you choose to take. Some preparation before beginning your journey to a specific destination makes this process smoother and less dangerous. Being spontaneous about your route may expose you to sources of anxiety and danger, like heavy oncoming traffic, crowded sidewalks, and no specific lanes for cyclists.
Planning can include finding routes to your destination with designated bike lanes or low traffic density. It can be looking for cyclists around you who are making the same journey. Thanks to advancements in digital technology, this process has become easier with applications connecting cyclists and showing them routes and trails deemed safe by others.
Adopt A Cautious Cycling Approach
When you’re out on the road and cycling, it isn’t enough to just follow the law; you must also account for the mistakes of others when making decisions. Your cycling, especially on trafficky roads, should be conservative to minimize potential harm.
Just because you have the right of way doesn’t necessarily mean you should cross an intersection. Make sure other drivers can see you before you begin crossing, and if it looks like they’re not stopping, you should, even if they are legally in the wrong. Avoid other vehicles’ potential blind spots, and warn them with your horn if they’re unattentively getting closer.
Driving cautiously also means being predictable. Try to stay in one lane as long as possible, and if you’re switching, give early signals to other vehicles before you begin to do so. Do not try to weave between cars to beat traffic, as this increases the likelihood of a collision. Keep a check on who is ahead of you and behind you, and ensure you keep a healthy distance from them.
Keep Your Bike Maintained
Just as a car requires regular oil changes and servicing to give the driver an optimal experience, so does your cycle rely on timely maintenance to be as safe as possible. A poorly maintained bike can increase the risk of losing control and being part of an accident.
Regular maintenance is vital as it ensures that the cycle’s brake pads are functional so you can respond swiftly to any unexpected obstruction on the road. Properly inflated and aligned tires help ensure your bike handles smoothly and prevents you from losing control in tricky terrains like rain or snow. Further, regular inspection helps identify issues like loose bolts, a damaged crank, or a worn-out chain that can cause mechanical failure and make accidents highly likely.
Be Prepped For Emergencies
While all these precautions can significantly minimize the chances of an accident, they cannot eliminate its possibility. Accidents can be unavoidable, and preparing for such an emergency can positively impact your response.
Have a first-aid kit with bandages, sutures, a burn shield, and a dressing pad. Additionally, you can take a course in first aid designed for cyclists, which help you learn to deal with common cycling injuries like head injuries, wounds, dislocations, and fractures.
You should charge your phone and ensure that your emergency contacts are easily accessible before you embark on your journey. You should also carry a bike repair kit with spare levers, tubes, and a pumping kit to deal with flat tires. For longer journeys, you should keep a spare chain, cable, and wheel.
Few things are as meditative as cycling down a beautiful natural trail or a cozy suburban neighborhood. Cycling is also healthy, a great way to exercise and improve balance and coordination. If you follow the advice in this article, you can seriously minimize your exposure to danger while cycling and thus only experience the positive outcomes listed above. Even if you get into an accident, you can limit its impact and hold those responsible accountable.