Our Boston bicycle accident attorneys want to stress for those eager to finally get back out on two wheels that there are a few things you can do to make your trip safer. While of course you cannot make motorists pay attention, drive sober or exercise caution, you can make yourself obvious. You can ride defensively. You can make sure your bike is in good condition. You can wear a helmet and other safety gear to lessen your chances of serious injury.
May is National Bike Month, and it’s designed to promote the many benefits of cycling and encourage more people to try it. According to The League of American Bicyclists, the overall growth of bicycle commuting has grown by 62 percent from 2000 to 2013. In Boston, we’ve seen an explosion of bike commuting – a 122 percent increase in that same time period. It’s increasing by further leaps and bounds as tourists and residents become acquainted with Hubway, the low-cost, city-sponsored bike and helmet rental system.
The good news is that with more bicyclists than ever in Boston, drivers in the city become accustomed to seeing and watching out for cyclists. They are on the radar. The bad news is that because so many cyclists shy away from the activity during the brutal New England winter, spring can be a dangerous time because drivers are no longer used to regularly spotting riders.
On top of that, your bike may be in less-than-stellar shape and sand and gravel in the road can pose a significant safety hazard.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Expect that drivers won’t be expecting you. Anyone who operates a vehicle has a responsibility to watch for all traffic, and that’s especially true for vulnerable road users like cyclists. But unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they are going to live up to those duties, particularly at the start of spring. Cyclists must remain vigilant, alert and visible. It’s recommended that cyclists wear bright-colored clothing during the day and reflective gear at night. M.G.L. Ch. 85, Section 11B requires cyclists to display lights on the front and rear of the bicycle when riding between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise. During this same time frame, bikes also need to be equipped with reflectors on both pedals. This is just the bare minimum; the law is clear that cyclists can affix as many reflectors as they want.
- Tune up your bike. You clean your house or apartment for spring. You give your car a tune-up. Give your bike the same love. It’s particularly important if you haven’t ridden your bike in several months. Clean all the components, check for wobbling and make sure there are no cracks, rust or looseness.
- Be mindful of roadway sand and gravel. These are especially common after a long, tough winter. They aren’t a major issue for those in motor vehicles, but they can cause a Boston bicycle accident if the cyclist hits a patch and loses control.
- Teach kids Boston bike safety. This is important. Kids love bicycles (it’s easy to see why!) but they need to know the safest way to operate them. Even if you are only taking your child out on a local trail, make sure they know the rules. Inform them what to do in case they encounter a car or need to cross an intersection. Kids younger than 10 should only be riding on trails or the sidewalk. Those who are going to be on the road need to first learn under strict supervision how to navigate it.
Because a bicycle accident can forever alter the course of your life, it’s important to take every step possible to improving your safety. Yet even in cases where the cyclist was partially responsible, damages can be pursued.
If you have suffered personal injury in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.
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