Bicycles Are Vehicles and Must Follow the Same Rules


Whether you use a bicycle everyday as your primary mode of transportation or only occasionally, to exercise, reach your grocery store quicker, or ride alongside your friends, you need to do it responsibly, knowing and obeying the traffic rules. Around 50,000 bicyclists are injured every year in the US according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and many more are involved in minor accidents with pedestrians or cars. So bike safety should be a priority for you when pedaling on the street.

Obeying the Traffic Rules

When it comes to road accidents, the general belief is that cyclists are the victims of drivers. While most statistics seem to confirm that drivers are more likely to cause accidents than cyclists, it’s important to be diligent as a cyclist and keep in mind that pedestrians are the most vulnerable. Crashing your bike into a child, elderly person, or any pedestrian at all can injure or even kill him or her. Pavements and streets are hard, harder than heads. Not to mention that you too can end up with a broken limb or a spine injury, even if you wear a helmet you are still susceptible to injury. In all states bicycles are considered vehicles. While you’re on the road, you must obey all traffic laws as drivers do.


Bike Safety Rules

  • Ride your bicycle on the street rather than on the sidewalk. If the local laws allow you to ride on the sidewalk, make sure you use your bell horn to alert pedestrians when you’re close to them. Or you can say something to this effect: ‘Passing on your left.’ Know though, that the sidewalk is in many ways more dangerous for a cyclist than the street. You’re more likely to bump into people than to crash into cars.
  • Pay close attention to stoplights, signs, signals, and lane markings. Many bicycle accidents on the road are caused by cyclists who ignore stoplights or lane markings.
  • Don’t ride your bicycle against the traffic. Some cyclists do it because they feel more comfortable with having the traffic in front of them rather than behind, supposedly minimizing their chances of being hit from behind. But this approach actually increases the collision chances, and also makes accidents more serious. Remember, your bike is a vehicle, and like vehicles you must go with the traffic.
  • Slow down before approaching crossings and always give way to pedestrians. To minimize collision chances, make eye contact with anyone who crosses your path whether he or she is a pedestrian, driver, or biker.
  • Approach parked cars with care as passengers can suddenly open the door.
  • Signal each time you make turns.
  • Ride in single file on the street rather than side by side when you’re pedaling with your friends.
  • Always use a helmet, even if you’re an experienced cyclist.
  • Wear a fluorescent cycling jersey. Also consider wearing bright colors like yellow or orange.

Think accidents can never happen to you? Hundreds of cyclists die every year in America. Take bike safety seriously. Stay safe.

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