Coloradans are well-known cycling enthusiasts, and it is no secret that Denver is a bicycle-friendly town. State legislators have even enacted laws to make them more bike-friendly. As summer approaches, and there are even more cyclists on the road, it is more important than ever to keep safety in mind.
As Denver accident attorneys, we have seen firsthand that when a crash occurs between a vehicle and a bike, it is the cyclist who is most likely to be hurt. Many crashes can be avoided if motorists and cyclists follow the rules of the road and watch out for each other. From wearing a properly fitted helmet, to driving defensively and predictably, here are some tips for bicycle safety.
Colorado’s Bicycle Laws
Knowing the law is a good place to start. First, bicycles on the roadway are vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles. Recently, however, Colorado passed a law allowing cyclists to go (slowly) through red lights and stop signs (if it is clear), without needing to follow the same traffic laws as cars. The Denver nonprofit, Bicycle Colorado, sets forth the rules of the road that all cyclists should be familiar with.
Wear a Helmet
Every bike ride should begin with putting on a helmet. However, it is just as important to ensure a proper fit so your helmet can best protect you.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are two main types of crashes: falls, which are the most common; and the ones with cars, which are generally more serious. Regardless of the nature of the crash, prevention is key. There are things you can do to decrease your risk of a crash:
- Be prepared before heading out by riding a bike that works and that fits you, wearing equipment to protect you and make you visible to others, carrying items in a backpack or strapped to the back of a bike, and tuck and tie your shoe laces and pant legs;
- Drive defensively by being focused and alert to the traffic around you, anticipating what others may do before they do it, driving with the flow, assuming the other person doesn’t see you, looking ahead for hazards or situations to avoid, and no texting or listening to music;
- Drive predictably by riding where you are expected to be seen, traveling in the same direction as traffic, signaling and looking over your shoulder before changing lane position or turning, and avoiding or minimizing sidewalk riding; and
- Improve your riding skills by taking an on-bike class through your school, recreation department, local bike shop or bike advocacy group.
Confidence in traffic comes with learning how to navigate and communicate with other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, as well as educating yourself on the applicable rules of the road. Happy cycling!