San Diego is known for warm weather, sunny skies, and great bike paths. But great biking comes with chances for careless drivers to swerve into bike lanes, open doors suddenly, or fail to pay attention when turning. You cannot always avoid being the victim of another person’s negligence, but there are some things you can do to prevent accidents from occurring or from being worse than they need to be.
Practice Defensive Biking Techniques
The San Diego Bike Coalition wants all Southern California cyclists to be safe and accident-free on the roads. They recommend using defensive biking tactics and obeying the rules of the road as if you were in your car. This includes wearing a helmet according to state law if you are under 18 and following local regulations regarding riding on sidewalks.
- Obey the Rules of the Road. Since bikes are considered “vehicles,” you should act like one. This means riding in the roadway, not on the sidewalk or on the shoulder. Ride with the flow of traffic, not against it. Obey all traffic signs and signals. Don’t cruise through stop signs or red lights, even if there is no cross traffic. Signal turns and stops with hand signals.
- Use Caution Riding Next to Cars. One of the most common types of bike accident is the “dooring” accident. Drivers often fling their doors open without checking to see if anyone is next to them, and an unwary cyclist can go over the door or into traffic. Leave yourself room when there are parked cars next to the bike lane.
- Use the Car Lane. You are a vehicle, so take the car’s lane if you need to. If there are cars parked in the bike lane, debris or construction barricades blocking the path, or other obstacles, don’t try to weave around them. Merge into the slow lane. Stay visible. Go ahead and take the middle of the lane rather than try to ride along the right side of the line.
- Stay Visible. Lights, fluorescent riding gear like vests, and reflective tabs on your bike are strongly recommended. You are required by law to have a light on the front of your bike, a light or reflector on the rear, and reflective tabs on your pedals. However, the better other drivers can see you, the easier it is for them to avoid you. Also, reflective gear is only effective at night when lights are hitting it. Bright colors are needed during daylight hours.
- Be Careful at Intersections. Cars making left and right turns are the two most common causes of bike and vehicle collisions, primarily because in the moment of the turn, the driver is no longer looking in the direction of the cyclist. If they have not seen you before they begin turning, it will be too late to change direction if they see you during the turn.
- Turning Right. If you see a driver turning right ahead of you, you are in their blind spot. Let the driver complete their turn. Don’t dash ahead or try to “beat them” to the intersection.
- Turning Left. Southern California is famous for uncontrolled left turns at intersections. If you are approaching and see a car sitting in an intersection, it is probably waiting for a chance to turn left. It’s safe to assume the driver hasn’t seen you.
- Running the Light. Even if nobody is turning, watch out for cars suddenly accelerating through the intersection trying to make the light. Running red lights is increasingly common as drivers relearn the rules of the road following the quarantine, and bicycles are too often on the other end of that learning curve.
Drunk or distracted drivers are a particular hazard for cyclists. Bicycles are low visibility vehicles, and drunk drivers have difficulty seeing large, brightly-lit objects. Although you have no way of knowing who may be intoxicated, you should use extra caution when cycling during times when people are known to be partying, such as New Year’s, the Fourth of July, and major sports weekends. Sometimes, defensive cycling means taking the car.
When You Need Help
If you’ve done everything right and still find yourself in a collision caused by another driver’s careless or negligent behavior, you should consider getting legal assistance. At Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers, we can help you with every kind of injury accident, large or small.
Our team of San Diego Bicycle Accident Attorneys is standing by to help you with your bicycle accident injury claim and answer all your questions. Call Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers at (619) 233-5020 for a free consultation today.