School is out, warm weather is here and you are riding your bike all around town. While riding a bike is economical, healthy and environmentally friendly, sharing city roads with vehicles is also dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 68 percent of cyclist fatalities in 2013 occurred in urban areas, a rate that has steadily increased over the years.
The last thing you want to do is to end your college career early because of a severe accident. You are not going to come out on top in a crash with a vehicle even of small size. However, you can greatly reduce the risk of getting into an accident by taking these precautions.
1. Know state bicycle laws
First, know the laws so you can follow them. Michigan does not mandate that you wear a helmet but highly encourages it because helmets can protect you from head trauma. However, the law does require the following:
- Riding in the same direction as traffic
- Using hand signals before turning
- Not holding anything that prevents you from having both hands on the handlebars
- Following the same traffic laws as vehicles
- Using a white light in front and red reflector in back between sunset and sunrise
Understanding state bicycle laws will increase your safety and keep you from getting a traffic ticket.
2. Stay away from high-risk circumstances
Be aware of high-risk situations so you can avoid them. The NHTSA's report reveals that most crashes happen from 3 p.m. to midnight, with the majority from 6 to 9 p.m., and occur at places other than intersections. Avoid riding at busy times, in the dark and on unsafe parts of the road. In city areas with lots of parked cars, always double-check for doors opening and vehicles re-entering traffic.
3. Do not drink and ride
You may think that drunk driving only applies to being behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. However, alcohol impairs your senses, reaction time, judgment and coordination no matter what you are doing. Rather than getting on your bike, find a safer way to get around if you have been drinking, or stay put until you are sober again.