As Bellingham's days stretch longer towards summer, more bicyclists will be out on the roads. This increases the risk of a car and bike collision. Remembering these simple rules while you ride your bicycle can do a lot to prevent a personal injury.
- Protect your head – wear a helmet! Always ride with a helmet, even if you’re just going a few blocks to Downtown Sounds. Make sure it complies with the Consumer Product Safety Commission standard, which if you bought it at a reputable bike store, such as Earl’s Bike Shop or Fairhaven Bicycles, to name a couple Bellingham retailers. Make sure the helmet fits snugly on your head, and read this post on how to properly fit a bike helmet. Parents, use the padding that comes with a child’s helmet to make it snug.
- Assure your bike is adjusted properly. Use the owner’s manual or get a professional bike fit.
- Before you ride, check the parts and make sure they’re working well. Check the handlebars to ensure they’re firmly in place and turn easily, and that your wheels are straight and secure.
- Always check your brakes before you start riding. Consult the manual to learn how to adjust the brakes yourself, or take your bike to a shop. When riding with hand brakes, apply the rear brake slightly before the front brake.
- Braking in rainy weather always takes more time. Ride slower.
- Be visible. Clothing that is reflective helps you be seen. Wear neon, florescent or other bright colors when you ride.
- Try to avoid biking at night. It is much more dangerous than daytime riding. If you do ride at nighttime, which is unavoidable for many Bellingham commuters during the winter, then make sure you have CPSC-approved reflectors. If you have a pannier or other type of carrier on your bike, make sure it doesn’t block the reflectors or lights. Make sure you use lights at night. Assume the driver of a vehicle won’t see you – ride cautiously and defensively.
- Ride on the right side of the street in a straight, predicable path. Travel single file and with traffic. Motorists won't expect to see bicyclists riding against traffic, and may not see you. There's a higher chance cars will pull into the path of a bicyclist or turn into the bike.
- Keep young kids on bikes out of the streets while they are unsupervised. Before you let your kids ride without supervision, make sure they have all the necessary safety skills automatically down.
- Don't ride your bike distracted. Watch out for obstacles such as potholes, cracks, expansion joints, wet leaves, drainage grates, or someone opening a car door. Before you go around the object, look around and make sure you have a clear path. Signal your intentions, and do what you signaled. If you come up to an area you don't feel you have the skills to navigate while on your bike, dismount and walk.
If you are hit by a driver and you're worrying about lost wages, medical bills, and how to get your life back in order, call Bill Coats Law. We have experience getting fair claims for bicycle accidents, and have a no fee guarantee. Call (360) 392-2833.