Urban bicycle commuters should follow these safety tips

Do you commute to work on your bicycle? Do you find yourself doing so on busy city streets both in the morning and evening hours?

Regardless of your route to the office, nothing changes the fact that this is a great way to save money, get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

There is only one problem with commuting in this fashion: You could be involved in an accident with a motor vehicle.

Unfortunately, there are two simple physics reasons why this type of accident can end in serious injury or even death:

  1. Bicyclists don't have much, if any, protection between themselves and other vehicles (or the ground).
  2. Motor vehicles are much larger than bicycles.

Managing the risks

Although the risk of an accident is always staring you in the face, that doesn't mean you should stay off your bike. Fortunately, there are ways to manage the risks by following a few key safety measures during your commute.

Consider the following:

  • Beware of all motor vehicle drivers. While many drivers are careful to share the road with cyclists, some aren't (whether willfully or inadvertently). Never assume a driver can see you. Likewise, never leave your safety in the hands of other drivers.
  • Watch for doors. Parked cars pose a major danger to cyclists. Drivers and passengers rarely look for cyclists before opening their doors to get out of the car. If you happen to be in their path, the results can be devastating. Avoid this hazard by steering clear of the deadly "door zone."
  • Use hand signals. The more information drivers have about your intentions, the safer you are. Hand signals also make you more visible to drivers who might otherwise overlook you. Always use signals well in advance of turns, and avoid sudden or unexpected maneuvers.

Far too many cyclists become victims of accidents caused by careless drivers. Although you can't eliminate the hazards, by following these and other commonsense tips, you can drastically improve your odds of staying safe during your commute.

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