Cyclists are considered vehicles when they ride in the road. This is true in all 50 states. Cyclists must obey all the same laws as people driving cars. In fact, the League of American Bicyclists recommends you “drive your bike as you would any vehicle.”
Biking in the road is inherently more dangerous than driving because of how exposed you are on a bike. Accidents between bikes and driven cars don’t often turn out well for the bikers. That is why it is so important that everyone who chooses to ride a bicycle in the road understands the rules and the risks of the road.
5 Rules of the Road to Remember as a Cyclist
As we mentioned above, traffic laws apply to cyclists just the same as drivers. However, biking is a lot more dangerous than driving, so here are some rules of the road to keep in mind no matter what state you’re in.
1. You Are Entitled to Your Space
All people using the road have complete ownership of the space in front, behind, and to both sides when on the road. You can use as much space as you need whether you’re a large truck or a small cyclist. If you wish to enter someone else’s road space, you must yield to them first.
2. Slow Down or Stop at All Intersections
Even if you don’t have a stop sign or a red light, it is smart to slow down and make sure it is safe to cross the road. If you don’t have the right of way, you have to let the traffic clear before you can cross the road.
3. The Right Lane Is for the Slowest Vehicles
Cyclists have the right to ride in the center or left lanes, but only if they can keep up with the traffic speed. More often than not, bikes simply can’t go fast enough. For this reason, it’s advisable to stay all the way to the right for your own safety.
4. Signal All Vehicle Maneuvers
There are hand signals for bike riders and every rider should learn them. It is in your best interest to always be seen while biking on the road. Cars may think they are fast enough to work around you. But if you turn into their lane without letting them know, then you could get seriously injured or even killed.
5. Ride on the Right Side of the Road
This may seem unnecessary to mention. However, many inexperienced cyclists don’t know the rule and traffic laws. It’s not uncommon to see a cyclist riding on the wrong side of the road, straight into oncoming traffic. This is highly dangerous. Always ride on the correct side of the road to avoid dangerous situations.
3 Common Risks Every Cyclist Faces on the Road
Biking in the road is dangerous. Cars are essentially giant metal boxes moving at high speed. Coming to ends with a pick-up truck is one way to end up in the hospital quickly. That’s why it’s important that all cyclists understand the most common risks they face on the road. And even more importantly, they must know how to avoid them so you and all people on the road stay safe.
1. Cars Don’t See You (Or Don’t Look for You)
The easiest way to get hit by a car is to remain invisible to the driver. In the US, drivers far outnumber the cyclists on the road. One of the most common reasons for a fatal crash between a car and a biker is that the person in the car simply didn’t see the person on the bike. Bikes are much smaller, less colorful, less noisy, and slower. The best way to not get hit by a car is to make sure that everyone on the road can see you.
There are several ways to do this. We recommend you do all of them to compound your likelihood of being seen. One way to increase visibility is to wear high visibility clothing. This includes neon vests, shirts, and pants with reflective material. Also, you should get blinking or flashing lights on the front, back, and sides of your bike. These flashing lights make it known to cars that you’re nearby. Many helmets also have reflectors and blinking lights in various colors to increase visibility. These practices become even more important at night, when visibility is already low.
2. Harsh Weather Conditions
Bikes just don’t have the kind of technology that cars do to remain safe in harsh road conditions. For example, cars have windshield wipers and anti-lock braking systems for rainy and snowy conditions. Bikers have to wipe their eyes on their own and be mindful of slippery spots in the road. Granted bikers tend to stay inside when it snows, but rain and bike tires are still a dangerous mix.
Another thing bikers must consider that cars do not is the paint on the road. Paint lines are the slickest parts of the road when they’re wet. From yellow center lines to white fog lines, you must avoid riding on the paint at all times. You especially do not want to hit those paint lines while making a turn. It’s likely that your tire will slip out immediately, even at low speeds.
3. Old and Damaged Roads
Bikers also face the problem of uneven and damaged roads. From cracks to potholes, bikers have a hard time maneuvering around hazards sometimes. Cars have much larger tires and more advanced suspension. But bikes don’t have the size or means to just plow right through big cracks and potholes with ease. In fact, most bikers avoid potholes and cracks as much as possible because they don’t want to crash.
Cobblestone roads also challenge bikers. There are some things you can do to make old and cracked roads less harsh on your bike and your body. Many bikers recommend learning how to “bunny hop.” A bunny hop is basically a small jumping trick so that you go over hazards instead of having to quickly swerve around them.
Call a Personal Injury Attorney Today
Have you or a loved one had an injury as a result of a cyclist, or any other road-related accident for that matter?
Look no further. If you need legal representation, call Domnitz & Domnitz today. We’re an experienced team of personal injury lawyers dedicated to helping you win your case as quickly as possible.
We’ll work with you to get you the coverage and support you need, so you can get back to focusing on your recovery. If you’re in the Milwaukee area, contact us today, and let’s start this journey together.