Why is Bicycle Safety Important?
There are 1,000 bicycle accidents every year in Wisconsin, which is why practicing safe bike riding is so important. We’ve compiled a list of the common causes of accidents, as well as a list to keep you safe and prepared while you’re riding your bike. Being alert and prepared is the best way to prevent accidents and injuries while riding your bike.
Bicycle Safety Rules in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has laid out all the rules for riding bicycles on the road. Here are some general rules:
- Wisconsin law does not require helmets to be worn on adults or children riding bicycles, but it is strongly encouraged.
- During the hours of darkness, bicycles are required to have a white front light and a red rear light or reflector.
- Ride at least three feet from the curb, parked vehicles (or debris on the curb area), and in a straight line. Do not swerve in and out around parked vehicles.
- Always ride in the same direction as traffic.
- Sidewalk riding (for bicyclists who are past the learning stage and being closely supervised by adults), can be more dangerous than on the road, obeying traffic laws. It is also illegal unless the community has passed an ordinance specifically permitting sidewalk riding.
- Obey all traffic laws.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Unfortunately, accidents do happen. Some common causes of bicycle accidents include:
- Car Driver Inattention: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 30% of all injuries in Car bicycle accidents happen when a bicycle is struck by a car. Drivers who are not paying attention are more likely to collide with bicyclists.
- Failure to Yield: When a car driver fails to yield to a bicyclist in a bike lane or crosswalk, accidents are more likely to occur.
- Bicycle Rider Inattention: Riders need to make sure that they are using caution while riding and sharing the road with other vehicles. Riders who are distracted are more likely to be injured. For instance, some bicyclists use cell phone devices to text while riding or ride wearing headphones to listen to music.
- Dangerous Road Conditions: According to the NHTSA, 13% of all injury-causing bicycle accidents are caused by roads that are not in good repair.
- Nighttime: More than half of all bicycle accidents happen when it is dark outside. Bicyclists need to make sure they are wearing reflective gear and have the required lights on when traveling at night. Motorists need to be extra vigilant at night as well.
Bicycle Safety Preparedness
Make sure you are prepared before and during your bike ride:
- Ride a bike that fits you. To learn more about how to find a bicycle that fits you, read this article!
- Ride a bike that works – including brakes and shifters.
- Wear equipment to protect yourself
- Helmet (and make sure it fits)
- Reflective gear
- Bright clothing
- Ride one person per seat.
- Use proper hand signals.
- Carry items in a backpack or strapped to a bike rack.
- Make sure your shoelaces are tied and your pant legs are tucked in.
- Plan your route
- Choose routes with less traffic and slower speeds.
- Be focused and pay attention.
- Try to anticipate what others may do. Practice defensive riding.
- Obey traffic signs.
- Drive with traffic.
- Don’t text, listen to music, or use anything else that might distract you.
Injured in a Bicycle Accident?
If you do find yourself or a loved one in a bicycle accident, a bicycle accident attorney can help communicate with insurance, handle medical bills, and overall give you and your loved one’s peace of mind during this frightening and chaotic experience.