How to Ride Your Bicycle Safely in High-Traffic Areas

by Staff Blogger | December 12th, 2022

People love riding their bikes. Whether it’s for fun, exercise, or commuting to work, biking is a fun, healthy way to get around. Studies have shown that commuters who ride their bikes have a higher degree of happiness and contentment than those who use other commuting methods in the city.

Bicyclists must share the road with cars, trucks, SUVs, and commercial vehicles. Although all vehicles must abide by the same traffic rules, cyclists often don’t receive the same duty of care as other motorists, leading to severe injury accidents.

Staying safe on your bicycle when sharing the road with cars requires practicing safe riding techniques. If you have been hit by a car while riding your bicycle, contact the San Francisco bike accident lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers to help you with your case.

The Dangers of High-Traffic Areas

Sharing the road with bigger, faster, and heavier vehicles is dangerous for bicyclists. According to the National Highway Transport Safety Administration, 938 bike riders lost their lives in 2020 due to accidents. 74% of these accidents occurred in high-traffic urban areas, and 51% at night.

California saw 129 bicyclist deaths in 2020, 79% of which happened in urban areas. Daytime accidents, which occurred between 6:00 a.m. and 5:59 p.m., accounted for 51% of reported accidents.

Beyond the number of bicyclists killed in road accidents, thousands more suffer injuries each year. High-traffic urban areas of cities are where cars and bikes have to share the road more. In cities like San Francisco, cars and bicycles share narrow, dangerous one-lane streets, contributing to bicyclists’ injuries.

Sharing the road can lead to drivers making mistakes or not accounting for bicyclists, leading to accidents at intersections and while turning or changing lanes.

Common Bicycle Accidents

Bicyclists are often injured in high-traffic areas like busy intersections or crossing multi-lane roads. However, they also suffer injuries in parking lots or residential streets when drivers back up without looking and run over a bicyclist.

Bicyclists are also injured when someone opens their car door without looking, referred to as dooring. They can be hurt if a driver brakes too suddenly, causing the cyclist to go over their handlebars when they try to stop in time.

Drivers who fail to yield or don’t respect bicyclists on the road can also lead to accidents.

Tips for High-Traffic Bicycling

While there are risks in biking on urban streets, many of these risks can be mitigated by following safety tips. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recommends several actions that can help you stay safe when biking in mixed-traffic or high-traffic areas:

  • Wear High Visibility Clothing

One of the leading causes of accidents is drivers who fail to see bicyclists. If you wear dark or non-reflective clothing, drivers may not see you or your bicycle, particularly at night.

Wear bright, neon, reflective colors, preferably with highly reflective strips, so drivers notice you when driving and checking their mirrors. Add reflective stickers to your bike, bright front and rear lights, and a reflective band to your helmet.

These clothes help keep you safe when riding by increasing the likelihood a driver will see you.

  • Don’t Ride in Low Light Conditions

Nationwide, 51% of all bike accidents happen at night. While only 49% of all accidents occur at night in California, biking in low light conditions adds to the already present dangers of biking in mixed traffic.

The safest time to ride your bike is during the day. If you must ride at night, choose routes that include streetlights, safety stops, and bike lanes. Don reflective clothing and avoid riding in dark alleys or busy roads when possible.

  • Make Eye Contact with Drivers Before Crossing

The two most common causes of accidents are failure to yield and drivers not seeing a bicyclist. One of the best ways to prevent both is to make direct eye contact with a driver before crossing any intersection.

When a bicyclist makes eye contact with a driver, both people recognize that the other is there, creating a safer situation. Many bicyclists also recommend a head nod to acknowledge the driver, so they know you see them. This basic step can help ensure the driver sees you at an intersection and exercises caution.

  • Ride Defensively and Predictably

The NHTSA recommends that all bicyclists drive defensively and assume drivers cannot see them. It also recommends bicyclists follow traffic laws and ride in a predictive manner to maintain a safe traffic flow.

To stay safe when riding your bicycle, take the following actions:

  • Wear proper safety equipment, including a good helmet and road-rash-resistant protective clothes.
  • Obey all street signs and ride with traffic.
  • Assume others do not see you and react defensively.
  • Do not listen to music or use your phone, and pay full attention to the road.
  • Watch pedestrians and other small vehicles, ring a bell loudly and say information like “on your left” to let them know where you are.
  • Watch for alley and driveway entrances and exits.
  • Maintain a straight and steady course; do not suddenly swerve or weave in and out of traffic.

Contact Berg Injury Lawyers After a Bicycle Accident

If you have been injured in a bicycle collision, call the bicycle accident lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers. Bicycle and automobile liability cases can be complex, so you need the best attorneys on your team to navigate the laws, argue your case, and get you the compensation you deserve.

Contact Berg Injury Lawyers today to request a free consultation and get started on your claim.