Bicycle Safety on KY Highways
Now that summer is finally here, many Kentuckians head out on a beautiful summer day for a leisurely bike ride. Perhaps you have started to ride your bike to work or around town for some exercise. Bike riding has become more popular, including for commuting to and from work. The National Highway Traffic Safety Transportation (NHTSA) reported that from 2000 to 2012, the increase in bicyclists who commute to work increased by 64 percent.
Bike Rider Responsibilities in Kentucky
According to Kentucky law, bicyclists have a right to share the road with cars. That right also includes the responsibility of obeying traffic laws and riding responsibly. But riding your bike with cars can mean that you are more vulnerable to being badly hurt if you are involved in a collision. The National Highway Traffic Safety Transportation (NHTSA) reported that in 2014, 726 cyclists were killed in auto accidents and in 2015, 818 cyclists died. In 2015, approximately 45,000 bicyclists were injured while in traffic, compared to approximately 48,000 in 2014.
Whether you’re riding in your neighborhood or on more congested main roads, it’s important to ride your bicycle wisely and safely. The following are a few tips to help you be a more aware and better prepared cyclist.
Before you get on your bike to ride, one of the first things you need to do is make sure you have a proper helmet. Although Kentucky has no law or statute that requires a helmet, it has been reported that most bike crashes (8 out of 10) involve some sort of head injury, so it’s better to err on the side of safety. To learn more about getting the correct bike helmet, visit the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI).
Understanding Kentucky Laws and Bicycle Riding
Knowing Kentucky’s laws and statutes on bike riding is another way to become a safer rider. Your bicycle is legally considered a vehicle, just like a car; so, obeying all traffic laws is imperative (i.e., you must stop at all stop signs and traffic lights, make proper signals, and not ride erratically). Because you are not riding in two tons of steel like you would be in a car, you must be extra vigilant as a bicyclist.
The NHTSA states that bike accidents fall in two categories: falls (the most common) and incidents with cars (the most serious). To decrease the chance of being involved in a crash, you’ll want to be prepared and ride defensively and responsibly.
- Make sure you have the right sized bike.
- Make sure your bike is safe and functional.
- You and your bike need to be visible to other motorists. Brightly colored or neon clothing while riding in the daytime.
- You should limit riding during the nighttime or during poor weather. If you must, use reflective items (e.g., tape, flashers) along with a white head light and a red tail light on your bike.
- Only one person should be on a seat. Both hands should be on the handlebars except when making turning signals.
- Keep your belongings in a book bag or strapped down to the back of your bike. Your shoelaces should be tied and your pant legs should be tucked so they do not become caught in the bike chain.
- Plan ahead: know where you are going by planning your route. Find routes with less traffic and bike lanes.
- Be aware of road conditions.
- As you ride, you should not have any headphones in your ears or should be texting. Be present and aware.
- Ride with the direction and flow of traffic. Cars have blind spots that make it hard to see cyclists at all times, so make sure you are riding in a predictable manner.
- Stay on the road and do not ride on sidewalks, as sidewalks can abruptly end. Cars do not expect bikes to ride off of the sidewalk to join the road
- Pay attention to road conditions: oil slicks, potholes, manholes, grating, and train track can all cause falls.
- Before you change lanes, look over your shoulder and properly signal.
- Be open to improving your bike riding skills through schools, bike riding groups, or your local recreation group or bike shop.
Bike riding in Kentucky can be a lot of fun, providing a car-free way to get around town as well as a great form of exercise. If you or a loved one has been involved in a biking accident involving a car, Lanna Martin Kilgore can help. As an experienced Kentucky personal injury attorney, she can get you the compensation you need to recover from your crash. Contact us today for a consultation at (270) 846-3700.