Most adults who decide to take up cycling have a history with riding bike in their formative years. However, using a bicycle as a main mode of transportation to travel longer distances on busier roads presents new risks.
If you're new to using a bike in this way, be sure to avoid making these common newbie mistakes.
Biking against traffic
While this may seem like a no-brainer, some bicyclists who are new to the road may make the mistake of traveling against traffic if they think the other side of the road will give them more room or require less street-crossing.
However, bicyclists and pedestrians have traffic laws just the same as motor vehicles do. Riding against traffic is against the law and could put you, pedestrians and drivers at great risk for an accident.
Not signaling turns
If most of your bike-riding experiences were on quiet suburban or rural roads, you may not have a lot of experience with signaling your turns on a bicycle. However, while riding with traffic this is imperative.
In addition to letting others know when and where you are turning, signaling with your arm can also help improve your visibility. This is especially important for cyclists because drivers are much or likely to recognize the size and shape of a vehicle than a bicycle on the road.
Unfamiliarity with directions
Even those who believe they are very familiar with an area may find that it's another story while on bike. Bicycling often requires riders to take alternative routes than they'd usually take while driving or walking.
Be cautious while familiarizing yourself with these routes by studying them on a map ahead of time--especially in high traffic areas like cities.
To check your GPS, pull over and come to a complete stop before using it. Otherwise, looking at the directions may distract you from important hazards in or on the road ahead.
Not suiting up
Most children just wear helmets while riding bike. If you haven't biked a lot in your adult life, you may wonder if all of the bicycle gear you see cyclists wearing is really necessary.
In most cases, the answer is yes. Biking as an adult usually means you'll be traveling further in more dangerous conditions. Equipping yourself with the proper gear can keep you from feeling fatigued and getting seriously ill or injured.
If runners wear headphones, why can't bicyclists? The truth is that headphones are dangerous for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike to use while out on the road. Loud music can prevent people from focusing on their surroundings and reacting to sirens, honking or other warning noises.
However, legally, bicyclists can wear an earbud in just one ear.
When an accident happens
If an accident happens because of one of these mistakes, part of the blame could be placed on you. However, accidents can be so fast and disorienting that it's difficult to know all of the events that lead up to it.
That's why it's a good idea to contact an attorney with experience defending bicyclists after you're involved in an accident. Cohen Law Partners are dedicated to seeing that bicyclists across California are given their right to the road and compensated when a negligent driver hurts them.