Cyclists often feel exposed and unsafe when riding around traffic. They are very conscious of how small a bike is compared to a car, how little protection a helmet really offers and how fast the traffic is moving.
The first step to staying safe is just to know what laws drivers expect cyclists to follow. For example, cyclists need to:
- Ride with traffic, never against it
- Properly yield if someone else is in the road
- Follow all traffic laws, such as stopping at a stop sign
- Stay off of the sidewalks
- Use hand signals when turning or merging
- Never ride while under the influence
Cyclists who do this help to prevent accidents because these are the things drivers expect them to do. This makes everything flow smoothly and avoids problematic communication errors.
Unfortunately, it does not mean that cyclists will never get hit. A cyclist can use a hand signal and still get struck by a driver who doesn’t see it. A cyclist could stop at a stop sign and get rear-ended by a car coming down the same street. A cyclist could stay stone sober and get hit by a drunk driver on the way home from the bar.
This isn’t to make you afraid to ride your bike but just to show that things like this are sometimes out of your control. Accidents happen. People get injured. You’re only as safe as the worst driver who passes you. If you get hurt in a crash, make sure you know what rights you may have to financial compensation.