For many children, riding a bicycle can be a source of freedom. If under the age of 16 or if without a motor vehicle, that may be their main means (or their only means) of transportation around town.
But unfortunately for cyclists, there can be a great deal of danger in being on the road with other motor vehicles—especially in South Florida. With an abundance of drivers who are distracted, in a hurry, tired, annoyed with traffic and everything in between, riding a bicycle among a mass of unsafe drivers can be very dangerous.
However, there are some ways for kids to avoid unsafe situations that could lead to bicycle accidents. These involve understanding general bicycle-safety rules and finding the safest routes that involve the least amount of traffic.
Understanding General Bicycle-Safety Rules
As a general rule for motorists, drivers are the ones responsible for doing everything possible to avoid a collision with a bicyclist. But depending on that alone is both naive and unsafe. That’s why it’s important to know the basics of bicycle safety in order to best prevent an accident from occurring. Here are some essential safety tips every bicyclist should act on before getting on the road:
Use your helmet.
Most bicyclists are very resistant to using helmets—but it’s especially prevalent in kids. In fact, only about 15% of riders under the age of 15 actually wear them. What does that translate to in terms of bicycle-related accident stats? According to a study by the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, 91% of all cyclists killed in 2009 in the U.S. were riding without a helmet. The bottom line? Helmets (that are the right size and fit securely) save lives and should be used on every ride.
Keep your bicycle well maintained. Similar to a motor vehicle, it’s essential to upkeep a bicycle to ensure the safest ride possible. The most important things to inspect on the bicycle are the brakes, tires and chains.
Be as visible to drivers as possible.
Many bicycle accidents occur because a driver didn’t clearly see the bicyclist. Whether it’s daylight or evening, it’s crucial to wear brightly colored clothing or reflective gear to increase visibility.
Pay attention and be proactive.
Just like defensive drivers, bicyclists should be agile and defensive while riding. If a driver seems distracted and it looks like a collision may occur, bicyclists should keep a safe distance or move out of the way to prevent an accident as best as possible.
Finding the Safest Routes in Your City
The other part of being safe while riding a bicycle is to find the best, least congested areas to ride. Here are some tips to finding the safest routes:
Avoid high-traffic intersections.
It’s hard enough for motor vehicles to avoid collisions in high-traffic intersections, so it can exponentially more difficult for bicycles to get through them safely too. Whenever possible, find a route that avoids major intersections.
Look for well-lit paths.
For kids riding their bikes to school in the mornings, it can be a difficult time of day for many drivers to see. Try to find the most well-lit areas possible to avoid a potential collision.
Find routes with the least amount of potential non-vehicle danger.
Some routes may have other forms of danger, such as unrestrained pets, construction hazards, criminal activity, cracked sidewalks, etc. If a child is preoccupied with trying to avoid one of these dangers, it could consequently put them in a different unsafe situation by forcing them to use the road while distracted.
Contacting a Lawyer If a Bicycle Accident Happens
Even with tips and preventive measures in place, bicycle accidents can still happen. If your child or a loved one has experienced a bicycle accident caused by another driver’s negligence and you’re wondering if you really need a lawyer, contact The Law Firm of Cohen & Cohen today. Our team will assess your case with a free evaluation and help you determine what your next best steps are.