This article discusses seven bicycle safety tips from local accidents lawyer Deirdre DiBiaggio of DiBiaggio Law, whose accident attorney firm serves Florida’s Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach Counties. Her law firm has represented many victims of bicycle accidents over the years and has learned what bicyclists should and should not do to avoid severe injuries or death.
Living in Florida means that we experience mild to hot weather all year round. If you’re like many Floridians, you probably take advantage of the pleasant climate to engage in outdoor activities such as cycling, jogging, running, or other sports.
Riding your bike is an excellent way to enjoy the Florida weather, get some exercise, and travel from place to place sustainably. Unfortunately, however, bicycle accidents are common throughout Florida. In 2020, Florida saw over 5,000 bicycle crashes, with 1,450 of those occurring locally in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties.
Bicycle accidents can result in severe injuries, expensive medical bills, and even death. However, taking proper safety measures is an effective way to avoid an accident and stay safe on the road.
1. Wear a Proper-Fitting Helmet
Wearing a helmet is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself while riding a bicycle. Florida law requires cyclists who are sixteen and under to wear a helmet, but even adults should wear this protective gear.
As you search for a helmet, keep in mind that an ill-fitting helmet may be just as harmful as not wearing one at all. Therefore, you should make sure that your helmet is snug and sits level on your head before riding with it.
Along with wearing a helmet, choosing proper footwear will also help you avoid an accident. You should make sure to wear closed-toed, non-slip shoes while riding, as these give you better control and stability than sandals or flip-flops.
2. Use Caution While Riding at Night
Bicyclist deaths occur most frequently between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. During these dusky evening hours, drivers often have trouble identifying cyclists on the road.
We recommend avoiding riding during the evenings, especially when the sun sets early. Instead, try to keep your rides to the most visible hours of the day. However, if you have to ride in the evenings, be sure to wear proper reflective gear to make yourself visible to drivers.
3. Stick to Low-Traffic Paths
Riding in heavy-traffic areas is dangerous, no matter whether you are a beginner or advanced cyclist. Regardless of how cautious you are, you cannot always predict what the drivers of vehicles will do, putting you at risk of being involved in a severe bicycle crash.
If possible, stick to low-traffic paths, bike lanes, or even off-road trails during your ride. Staying away from vehicles will lower your chances of being involved in a bicycle crash with a car or truck.
Florida’s bicycle safety laws require that cyclists who are traveling slower than the speed of traffic ride as close to the right-hand side of the road as possible. If you plan to ride on the road, be sure to stay in a safe, predictable location where drivers can pass you if necessary.
Thankfully, Florida does allow cyclists to ride on sidewalks as long as they follow pedestrian laws. So if you feel more comfortable on the sidewalk, you can take advantage of this law to stay away from vehicle traffic. Just be careful when pedestrians are also on the sidewalk.
4. Obey Traffic Laws on the Road
If you plan to ride on the road alongside vehicle drivers, you should be sure to adhere to all traffic laws that you would typically respect in your car.
Obeying traffic lights, stopping at stop signs, and following lane protocol will allow drivers to predict your movements, preventing an accident. Similarly, you should always ride with the traffic flow and eliminate distractions that could take your eyes away from the road, such as music or phone calls.
5. Install Rear-View Mirrors
One of the most prevalent reasons cyclists become involved in accidents is the failure to notice drivers behind them. Installing rear-view mirrors on your handlebars or helmet can help you remain aware of the traffic around you and ride defensively if drivers get too close to you.
6. Know the Weather
No one likes biking in the rain, but Florida’s unpredictable weather patterns mean that a rainstorm could appear out of nowhere. So before you head out on a bike ride, be sure to always check the forecast and be aware of any impending storms or inclement weather events.
If you plan to ride in the rain, be sure to wear weatherproof gear and bring extra layers to remain comfortable during your ride.
7. Always Carry Your Cell Phone and Wallet
Even if you follow all of the safety tips above, unfortunately, you may still be at risk of a bicycle accident. Carrying your cell phone with you when you ride will ensure that you can call for help if necessary, whether you need emergency assistance or a friend to come to pick you up. Your phone will also assist you in gathering evidence after a crash.
Similarly, keeping your ID on your person can help responders identify you in the case of an emergency while having your wallet will allow you to purchase food, water, or a cab ride home if you find yourself stranded.
In Case of Accident, Get Legal Help from DiBiaggio Law
If you are a victim of a bicycle accident, you may need a competent bike-accident attorney on your side if you need to take legal action or file an insurance claim to pay for medical bills. Contact our offices at DiBiaggio Law today at 561-473-9800 or complete our online form to schedule your free consultation.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.