If you ride a bike in the Los Angeles area, you are no doubt well aware that car accidents involving bicycles are a relatively common occurrence, often with tragic consequences. These tips can help you stay safe when riding in traffic.
Be visible and predictable
One of the best things you can do to stay safe when biking in traffic is to help car drivers see you and predict your movements. This means wearing brightly colored or reflective clothing, using lights and reflectors on your bike, and riding your bike in a manner that makes it easy for drivers to see you and keep track of where you are. Make eye contact with drivers and avoid weaving between lanes or darting out from between parked cars or other obstructions that may make it hard for them to see you.
Obey traffic laws
Part of being visible and predictable on your bike means obeying traffic laws, for instance by riding in the direction of traffic, staying in your lane, obeying traffic lights and signaling your turns. By adhering to traffic laws while on your bike, you not only help minimize your risk of being involved in an accident, you may also help maximize the compensation you will be able to receive if you do end up being hurt in a crash.
As many cyclists are only all too well aware, people are often biased against bicyclists and quick to blame them for causing accidents – even when in truth they are victims of careless or even malicious driving. Taking care to bike as safely and responsibly as possible will help to minimize the risk that you will be found at fault in the event of a crash, which in turn can protect your ability to pursue maximum compensation if you are injured.
Whether they are parked or on the move, drivers have a legal and ethical duty to watch out for bicyclists and help keep them safe. Unfortunately, however, that does not mean they always do so. Some drivers fail this task because they are simply oblivious or inattentive, while others go out of their way to harass cyclists and cause them fear or even physical harm. This means that you must stay alert and on the lookout for potential hazards such as:
- Opening doors on parked cars
- Cars pulling into your path from parking spots
- Approaching vehicles at intersections
- Cars turning into your path at intersections or driveways
- Cars swerving into your lane
- Drivers that fail to yield to your right of way
By keeping a watchful eye on your surroundings, you can also stay alert to other potential hazards on the road ahead, such as puddles, wet leaves, potholes, metal grates or loose gravel.
Safeguard your right to seek compensation
If you are injured in a car crash while on your bike, you may have a right to seek compensation for your injuries through the civil legal system. However, in order to preserve that right and improve your chances of obtaining full compensation for your injuries, it is important that you seek advice from a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer before accepting an offer of payment from an insurance company or discussing the details of the crash.
Our founding attorney, Scott J. Corwin, has more than 30 years of experience in representing accident victims injured in all forms of bicycle accidents, in the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, San Diego, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and throughout the state of California.