Bicycle Safety

bicycle safety tipsAbout 4 million Texans ride bicycles every year.

But Texas ranks 33rd among the states as far as having laws that are considered bicycle friendly or protecting bicyclists.

Who says so ?

Texas attorneys who handle bicycle crashes, that’s who.

One thing is certain: Year after year more people are riding bikes on the roadways. which means that cyclists and motorists must have a greater awareness and practice greater caution.

Of course, a lot needs to be said to drivers beyond “be careful,” but we’ll get to that in a later blog post.

For today we’re talking to bicyclists about what they can do to keep themselves safe when riding.

 

Know and Follow the Rules

A bicycle is a vehicle and a person operating a bicycle has the same rights and duties as a driver operating a vehicle. All laws and signs that regulate the movement of vehicles upon the roadway also apply to bicycles.

Therefore a bicyclist should obey all laws signs and signals. This includes stopping at all stop signs and stop lights.

Bicycles should only be operated on streets, roadways, bike paths, and routes  specifically designated for bicycle riding. Unless you’re a very young child — and few of them read our blog — don’t ride your bicycle on the sidewalk.

 

texas bicycle safety hand signalsBicyclists must use hand signals to signal their intent to stop or turn.

  • Stop: Extend the left hand and arm downward
  • Left turn: Extend the left hand and arm horizontally
  • Right turn: Extend the left hand and arm upward or
    extend the right hand and arm horizontally.

 

Bicyclists should ride with the direction of traffic.

  • A person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway must ride as close to the right curb or edge of the roadway as possible.
  • A person operating a bicycle on a one-way roadway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of the roadway.

On a road with two or more lanes, bicyclists may ride side-by-side, providing they do not take up more than one lane. If they take up more than one lane, they must ride single file.

 

You must ride sitting on or astride a seat that is permanently attached to the bicycle.

A person may not carry more passengers than the bicycle is designed or equipped to carry. And don’t carry any object that prevents you from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars.

All bikes must have a brake which can make a braked wheel  skid on dry,level,clean pavement.

 

Bicycles should not be towed. If you’re riding a bicycle on the road, never attach yourself to a vehicle or streetcar and let it pull you along.

 

Let Yourself See and Make Yourself Seen

Riding a bicycle at night is obviously more dangerous than riding in daylight. Statistics and studies reflect this. A study done by the Consumer Products Safety Commission, states that 46% of all cycling fatalities occur in night time collisions. And only 8% of the cyclists involved had lights on their bicycles.

 

46% of all
cycling fatalities
occur in night time collisions.

Only 8%
of those cyclists
had lights
on their bicycles.

TWO TYPES OF LIGHTING
On your bicycle, you must have 2 types of lighting: active lighting and passive lighting.

Active lighting needs to be activated. It takes an action to do so. It’s usually an electric device such as a battery or a generator that needs to be turned on before it can start working.

Passive lighting means the light shines without the rider taking any action. For example, reflectors on the bike or reflective clothing. A light must be aimed at it for it to give off light.

Passive lighting can be a great thing to have if your active lighting has a short circuit and your electric lights fail or if your batteries run out. even if your active lights are working fine, it’s still important to have passive lights.the more lights you have, the safer you will be.

 

All new bicycles sold in the U.S.A. must have reflectors. However, if you are riding in “limited visibility conditions” you are required to have a light that can be seen for at least 500 feet in front of you.

“Limited Visibility” doesn’t just mean night time. It also means fog, rain, or anytime you are unable to see at least 1,000 feet ahead.

Of course anyone concerned with their own safety and the safety of others will want to make themselves as visible as they can be. Lights, reflectors, even the color clothing that you choose to wear can all make you easier to see and, therefore, easy for drivers to avoid hitting.

 

A person may not operate a bicycle at night unless the bicycle has at least the following:

  • Headlamp – A lamp on the front of the bicycle that gives off a white light visible for at least 500 feet ahead of the bicycle.
  • Red Reflector –  A bicycle must be equipped with either a red reflector which can be seen from a distance of 300 feet from the rear of the bicycle or a red lamp which is visible from at least 500 feet from the rear of the bicycle

You could receive a traffic ticket if you are in violation of these lighting requirements.

But let’s face facts: if you’re on a bicycle and you are hit by a car or truck because they couldn’t see you, or any other reason, a traffic ticket will probably the least of your worries.

 

Some other things that
might be useful to you:

In recent years, more and more Texas cities have been adding bicycle routes so that riders can avoid using the street as well as designated bicycle lanes on streets. But these are still very few and won’t get you safely to very many places.

And there are a great many drivers out there who either don’t know how to share the road with bicyclists, or don’t want to. Protect yourself when riding by following the rules, making yourself visible, and behaving in predictable ways.

Keep yourself safe and happy cycling!

 

 

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