Covid-19 has many of us working from home and going out only when we need to, rather than for our daily commute to and from work.
The pandemic has also blown the doors off bicycle sales, with unprecedented numbers of people purchasing, or fixing up, bikes to ride for pleasure and exercise. With many working from home, and gyms still closed for the most part, people have opted for mobility via two wheels.
If you have read my past blogs, you are ware that I am one of those MAMILS—Middle Aged Men In Lycra—who rides his bicycle for exercise and competition. I love it.
What is not to love so much is the way motor vehicle operators tend to not notice bicyclists. While my prior experiences before the pandemic were that traffic was getting worse and drivers were more distracted than ever, Covid-19 has changed things a bit. The roads are much less crowded, which is a good thing. However, drivers have taken to treating stop signs (and even stop lights) as advisory at best.
The rule of thumb for bicyclists is to assume that all drivers are distracted, unaware of your presence, on their phones, or a combination of those.
Ride defensively. Give yourself plenty of time to decelerate to avoid a vehicle.
Signal your turns. If you are turning right, simply point your right arm outward and point that direction before making your turn. Same deal with the left arm for a left turn. It is not a bad idea to signal that you are slowing by placing a flat palm behind your back. It is something we cyclists do when riding with a pack of riders, so why not also let the vehicles behind you know what you’re doing, especially if they can’t see around you.
Always wear a helmet. I’ve cracked two in the last half dozen years, and I don’t even take chances. One saved me from killing myself after hitting a tree head-first.
Many riders recommend helmet cameras to record any crashes or aggressive or dangerous driving. Now, many bicycle computers have accident awareness technology as well.
Always carry identification, a basic first aid kit, and a little bit of cash and a credit card with you. Bring your phone too.
Make a promise to yourself to dream one night that you were in a hurry to get somewhere, or you were looking at your phone, and you ran over a cyclist.
Yup, you just killed a human being.
Scary stuff, huh?
That’s the point. Promise yourself to remember that bicycles deserve your attention when you are driving. Yes, I know some don’t follow the rules perfectly or ride irregularly. Same deal with little kids darting out from between cars. The little kids do not deserve to get run over.
The adult way to handle these issues is to drive always as if you might kill someone if you don’t pay complete attention. It may take you a while longer to get where you are going, it might frustrate you, and it might slow up traffic. But it just isn’t worth a human life, is it?
More safe driving basics:
Absolutely true. Having bikes around is like having telemarketers calling your phone, street cleaning making you move your parked car, and having to wear a mask to protect yourself and others from deadly diseases like Covid-19. These are just some of life’s inconveniences. Yes, the alternatives of not having a phone, or unclean streets, or the like, is not logical or livable.
Make a pact with yourself to be a good human and pay attention to bicycles and the rules of the road. If you are a cyclist, know the rules and follow them.
As in all cases involving injury and potential liability, if you have been hit by a vehicle immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a lawyer with expertise in your type of case, such as auto accidents, bicycle accidents or pedestrians hit by cars.
If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has nearly 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.
Stephen handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything upfront and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day, contact Stephen now.