Asatryan Law
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Asatryan Law
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Representing the injured in California and Nevada

Bicycle commuters: Here's how to stay safe

Your bike is a terrific way to get to work. You get some exercise naturally during the day, you save on fuel costs, you don't have to worry about parking and you help out the environment. Since you started riding, you take your bike to the office as often as you can. You love it.

There are certainly a lot of upsides to cycling to work, but don't forget that there are downsides, as well. One major one is the risk you face on the roads. If you get into an accident with a car, you are almost always the one coming out of that with major injuries. For as much as drivers make mistakes -- talking on the phone, texting, talking to friends, breaking the speed limit, driving drunk, running red lights; the list goes on and on -- you are the one facing the real risks when they do.

How can you stay safe? A few helpful tips include:

  1. Watch out for drivers turning right (or left) in front of you. They constantly underestimate your speed. A lot of drivers will pass a bike and then turn right, rather than waiting for the cyclist to pass the road and turn behind the bike. When they do it, you can get hit directly or run into the side of the car.
  2. Wear bright clothes. Put reflectors on your bike. Consider clothes with reflective materials. Pick colors like green, yellow and orange. That may not be your personal style, but do what you can to stand out. Wearing all black on a black bike in the city just makes you harder to spot.
  3. Look out for people exiting their cars. They probably have to open the door right into the bike lane if they parallel parked. Rest assured that many of them don't check to make sure the lane is clear first.
  4. Make your signals clear whenever you turn. Let drivers know what you're doing before you do it. Even if you think there is plenty of space, signal with your hands.
  5. Know where the real risks are. Generally, cars overtaking you from behind are not going to hit you. More accidents happen when people turn into you, cut you off, or don't see you while pulling out of a cross street. Cyclists often worry most about traffic behind them -- this is why some opt to ride on the sidewalk, mistakenly believing it's safer -- but the real risks lie elsewhere.

This information can help you stay safe. It can help you avoid accidents. But there is no guarantee. If you do get hit, despite your best efforts to stay safe, make sure you know what legal options you have.

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