Bicycle safety at the start of summer

The road isn’t just for cars, and as the weather warms up, more people will hop onto their bicycles to head out, which means sharing the road and staying safe.

For bicyclists, it’s all about taking the right precautions and following local laws. For motorists, it’s about staying alert and keeping an eye out for those using the road who aren’t in a car.

To share the road right, everyone on the road should play it safe, and here’s how.

Bicycle laws in Georgia

First and foremost, everyone should know the basic bike road rules for your area. They not only help cyclists stay safe, but help drivers know what to expect. In Georgia, bike road rules include:

  • Bicyclists must ride as close to the right side of the road as possible unless overtaking a vehicle, turning, or avoiding road hazards.
  • Bicyclists must ride with traffic, not against it.
  • Bicyclists must obey traffic signs and signals, including stop signs and red lights.
  • Bicyclists must signal when turning or coming to a stop.
  • Drivers must yield to a bicyclist within a bike lane.

It’s also worthwhile to note that in most places in Georgia, bicyclists over the age of 12 cannot ride on the sidewalk; they must share the road with motor vehicles.

Where to find a new bicycle or get repairs

In addition to knowing local bicycle laws, it’s also important to keep your bike in good working order. Should you need repairs, or if it’s time to upgrade to a new model, check out these local bike shops in Cobb and Cherokee County.

Helmet safety

While it’s always a good idea for someone riding a bike on the road to wear a helmet; Georgia law doesn’t require it for everyone. Only bicyclists under 16 are legally required to wear a properly fastened helmet when on their bike.

This obviously poses a greater danger for adults, riding a bike on the road, if they decide not to wear a helmet. The choice is something worth taking into consideration when it comes to personal safety.

One-third of non-fatal bicyclist injuries are to the head, and the risk of death for a bicyclist in an accident rises 22 percent for those not wearing a helmet. These statistics make it clear that, although it’s a choice, proper bicycle safety is closely tied to wearing a helmet.

Bicycle hand signals

Another way to stay safe on the road, as a cyclist, is to let the vehicles around you know where you’re headed. Some of the leading causes of bike accidents on the road are when a driver doesn’t see you, or makes an incorrect assumption about where you’re headed.

Bicycle hand signals

While your bike won’t necessarily have right and left clickers, there are defined hand signals that keep everyone else on the road aware of your next move. There are three basic hand signals all bike riders should know.

  • To indicate you’re stopping, extend your left arm and bend it down at the elbow at a 90-degree angle.
  • To indicate you’re turning left, stick your left arm straight out.
  • To indicate you’re turning right, extend your left arm and bend it up at the elbow at a 90-degree angle.

It’s also acceptable to stick your right arm straight out to indicate a right turn although traditionally, only left arm bicycle hand signals are used. This is based on how you’d use the same hand signals in a car should your indicators not work. Since drivers sit on the left side, only their left arm is visible out the window.

What happens when a cyclist is in a car accident?

Knowing how to ride a bike on the road is the first piece to staying safe, but it’s also up to the cars around you to play it safe too.

Unfortunately, cars don’t always know how to drive appropriately around bike riders (which is why motorists should know the local bike laws as well.) Common reasons for car-and-bike accidents include:

  • Inattention by either drivers or cyclists.
  • Failure for the driver to yield to a bicyclist (treat the bike like it’s another car.)
  • Road conditions leading to bicyclists losing control and falling into traffic.
  • Night cyclists not making their bikes properly visible with reflective gear.
  • Rear-end accidents.

No matter the cause, an accident between a car and a bike is scary, and there’s a much higher risk of injury for the cyclist, even with a helmet on.

What happens if you hit a cyclist with your car?

If, as the driver, you find yourself in a car accident with a bicyclist, the most important thing is to stay calm. You’re most likely hurt a lot less severely than the person on the bike, so stay on the scene, check on the cyclist, and call the police.

Wait for medical services to arrive and stick to the facts when answering any questions from the police. You also want to exchange contact information with the cyclist if possible.

As you’re waiting, take pictures of the scene. This includes the state of your vehicle and that of the bike. Get far enough away to also snap a picture of the positioning of both the car and the bike, and then zero in on any noticeable damage.

If you can, while still at the scene, get a copy of the police accident report. If that’s not possible, make sure you know how to secure a copy.

Once you’re clear to leave, it’s a good idea to visit the doctor yourself. Even if you aren’t experiencing any noticeable symptoms related to the car accident, they can show up later on. You want to be able to link injuries to the accident, so don’t wait to get a quick check-up.

You’ll need to contact your insurance company, and should consider talking to a personal injury attorney as well. Even if the crash isn’t deemed your fault, getting into a car accident with a cyclist can be tricky, and you want to legally protect yourself.

Contact an attorney whenever you’re injured in a car accident

Whether you’re driving the car or riding the bike when you get injured in a car accident, the best way to get the compensation you deserve is to contact a personal injury lawyer. They’ll ensure you’re not taken advantage of by those big insurance companies, and allow you to focus on healing rather than fighting for your settlement.

At Nicholson, Silverbach & Watson, our team takes a personalized approach to each case, customizing our strategy to meet your specific needs. We work hard for your rights so you don’t have to. If you’re suffering from injuries related to a car accident, bike accident, or any other vehicle-related crash, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We’re here to help you get the compensation you deserve.

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