Bicycling is very popular in Chicago, Illinois and across the United States, both as a recreational activity and a means of transportation. In fact, more than 4 million people in Illinois ride a bike to work, for fun, and for exercise. As a result, there many physically fit people in the state, but there are also over 4,000 Illinois bike accidents each year in which riders are treated for injuries.
As cycling’s popularity has increased, the number of bicycle-related injuries and deaths have increased as well. Sharing the road with vehicles can be inherently dangerous, so the best protection against injury is to know how to ride your bicycle safely. Following all road laws that apply to people driving vehicles is crucial.
These rules are especially important for all bicyclists:
- Bicycle helmet use is imperative. Choosing an approved helmet that fits correctly decreases the chance of a serious head injury in the case of a bike accident.
- To increase your visibility to motorists and other cyclists, wear bright-colored clothing in the daytime and white or reflective clothing at night.
- Bicycling at night is very dangerous. If you cannot avoid riding after dark, road law states that you must have a front light on your bicycle that can be seen for at least 500 feet and a rear red reflector that is visible for up to 600 feet.
- Stay off busy streets.
- Always ride as close to the right edge of the road as possible.
- Obey traffic lights and stop signs.
- Always use hand signals to let drivers know when you are turning.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times, and try to anticipate the potential actions of motorist. For example, many motorists will not use their turn signal. Make sure they are not turning in your path before proceeding.
- Do not pass on the right. Motorists may not look in that direction for passing cyclists.
- Keep both hands on the brakes.
- Allow for extra stopping time in the rain if conditions are slick.
- Be alert for cars pulling out and make eye contact with the drivers to ensure you have been seen.
- Don’t ride between cars.
Commuting to Work
Riding a bike to work is a good way to mix in exercise to a busy work day and is convenient for many people. However, most people commute during peak traffic hours, which makes it important to remember some important safety tips:
- When you are planning your route to work, consider traffic conditions, the difficulty of the route, and whether there are any bike paths on the way.
- Riding the same route every day is a good idea, because it will help motorists adjust to seeing you at around the same time and place every day.
- Be sure to bring the appropriate equipment, including a helmet, bright clothing, bike lights, appropriate gear for inclement weather, and spare parts and tools for use in the event of a breakdown.
Riding a bike to work or for exercise and enjoyment can be fun and exciting, but it is very important to use caution and follow road laws while in traffic. If you are hit by a car, you can make a claim against the negligent driver’s auto insurance policy.
If you have been injured in a Chicago area bike accident, contact us for a free case consultation.