3 crucial safety rules for cyclists sharing the road with cars
May 10, 2023
Self-propelled vehicles like bicycles are environmentally-friendly and offer health benefits for those who regularly ride. Bicycling is a form of cardiovascular exercise that can also help build lower body strength. However, the serious injury risk of biking on the Michigan streets counteracts some of the health benefits. Someone in a motor vehicle could crash into you, leaving you with severe injuries. Following the right rules when cycling on public roads can reduce your risk of getting hurt. What are some of the ways that cyclists can better share the road with motor vehicles?
Use proper signals
Unlike motor vehicles, most bikes don't come with illuminated turn signals. You can invest in after-market additions that allow you to visibly signal to others in traffic when you intend to turn or stop. If you do not add aftermarket illuminated signals to your bicycle, then you need to use hand signals while on the road. Making the right gestures can inform others of your upcoming maneuvers and prevent the crash. The standard traffic signals include extending your left arm directly out from the shoulder to indicate a left-hand turn and extending the left arm with the elbow bent and the fingers up to indicate a right-hand turn. Michigan also added a second right-turn hand signal, which involves extending the right arm horizontally, like you do for a left turn. When a cyclist intends to stop, they should extend their left hand down toward the ground.
Learn about defensive biking
The other people in traffic are a huge source of risk, and the only way to protect yourself is to assume that any of them could make a mistake at any moment. Defensive biking involves being mindful of your surroundings and operating under the assumption that others may not notice you on the road.
Keep an eye on road conditions
Michigan is notorious for potholes, and spring rides are particularly dangerous for this exact reason. Check your favorite bike routes for potholes when you walk or drive to know where there could be dangerous road conditions. Constantly scanning the street in front of your bike can help, as an overnight freeze and morning thaw might mean the development of new potholes that weren't there the day before. Cyclists who focus on safety before and during every ride can reduce their risk of getting hurt on the road. Knowing your rights will also make it easier to bring a claim if you get hurt in a cycling crash.