As we enter the warm weather months in Chicago, we see more and more people riding bicycles. Unfortunately, it’s also the season for bicycle crashes. The state of Illinois sees more cycling injuries and fatalities during the summer months than any other time of the year.
It’s critically important that cyclists ride with safety in mind. At the same time, drivers must be alert and respect the rights of people on bikes. A bicycle on the road is a vehicle. Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as the person driving a car or truck.
Top tips for safe cycling
A bicycle crash involving a car, truck, bus or any other vehicle on the road can lead to devastating and even fatal injuries. To reduce the risk, we offer the following tips for cyclists.
- Consider using a helmet: Except for bike messengers and delivery people, most adult cyclists are not legally required to wear helmets in Chicago. There are pros and cons to wearing helmets and some adult riders have a right not to wear one. But the AAA reports wearing head protection reduces risk of serious injury by as much as 85 percent.
- Ride defensively: Keep your head up. Don’t look at the ground. Be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to make a quick stop or maneuver to avoid a crash.
- Ride with the flow: You should cycle on the right side of the road.
- Use the right bike: Ride a bicycle that is mechanically sound (brakes work, tires are properly inflated) and is the right size.
- Wear appropriate clothing: Wear bright clothing during the day. Wear reflective gear and use lights at night (a white headlight and red taillight).
What can drivers do to keep bicyclists safe?
For motorists, it’s equally important to drive your vehicle with bicycle safety in mind:
- Yield to bicyclists: You may need to stop while making a turn at an intersection or into a driveway or parking lot if you see a cyclist.
- Watch your speed: Driving too fast means you have less time to react if you are approaching a bicycle. You also may need to drive slower than the posted speed limit if weather conditions are poor.
- Give cyclists room: If you are approaching a cyclist on the road, make sure there is at least three feet of clearance between your vehicle and the bike.
These are just a few of the important safety tips to be aware of when driving or cycling. You can learn more about bicycle safety by visiting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.
How a personal injury attorney can help
Bicycle crashes happen fast, and they can be life-changing events. It’s not unusual for a cyclist to suffer a permanent brain injury or sustain numerous broken bones and internal injuries.
The insurance company representing the driver who hit you may downplay the injuries. The driver might say you were at fault even if you were obeying the rules of the road.
With so much at stake, it’s crucial to have an experienced injury attorney on your side. If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a crash, contact Keating Law Offices, P.C., for a free consultation. Don’t put your claim in jeopardy by discussing your case with the insurance company. Talk to us first. Our Chicago attorneys can put our experience and resources to work for you.