If You Liked it, Then You Shoulda Put a Helmet on it!
As a bicycle accident attorney I have often thought, what is the hardest thing about learning to ride a bike? The road.
Under Arizona law, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. When riding, always:
- Wear a helmet – it could save your life!
- Obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.
- Signal your moves.
- Be courteous to pedestrians and other riders or motorists.
- Most bicycle crashes occur at driveways or intersections. Before you enter any street or intersection, check for all traffic and know what is happening.
- Stay alert at all times. Watch out for potholes, cracks, wet leaves, sand, gravel, uneven pavement, puddles, storm grates, railroad tracks, animals on the loose, or anything that could make you lose control of your bike.
- When turning left or right, always look behind you for a break in traffic, then signal before making a turn. Watch for left- or right-turning traffic.
- Ride so other drivers can see you. Do not assume they can or know that you are there. Stay out of motorists’ blind spots.
- Always wear fluorescent or bright clothing when riding during the day.
- Avoid riding at night, when it is far more dangerous than riding during the day. If you have to ride at night, wear something that reflects light. Make sure your bike has reflectors on the front and rear of your bike. A headlight and taillight are mandatory.
- Before riding, inspect your bike to make sure all parts are secure and working properly, inflate your tires to the correct pressure, and check your brakes.
- Carry books and other items in a bicycle carrier or backpack.
- Ride far enough out from the curb to avoid the unexpected from parked cars, especially doors opening.
The goal is for no one to have an accident, regardless of what they ride or drive. According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, however, the bad news about cycling accidents for 2009 through 2103 is:
Arizona Bicycle Laws are Just That – Laws:
These sections from the Arizona Revised Statutes are the law in Arizona, not simply suggestions or good ideas:
- Section 28-644: Stop for traffic lights and stop signs.
- Section 28-817: When riding after sunset or before sunrise, always use a white !
- Sections 28-792 and 28-904: Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and on sidewalks.
- Section 28-756: Before you turn or change lanes, look behind you, signal to show your plan to turn or change lanes, and yield to any traffic already there. Cyclists may signal their turns by extending either their left arm for a left turn or their right arm for a right turn.
- Section 28-721: Any vehicle moving slower than the normal traffic speed shall drive in the right-hand lane, or “as close as practicable” to the right edge of the road, except when preparing to turn left or when passing.
- Section 28-704: Any vehicle on a two-lane road that has five or more vehicles behind it must pull off at the first safe pullout to allow the vehicles behind to proceed.
- Section 28-813: A person shall not use a bicycle to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped. Every person on a bike must have a regular seat on which to sit.
- Section 28-814: You may not attach your bicycle to, or hold onto, another vehicle traveling on the road.
- Section 28-815:
- Ride your bike as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the road,
unless you are overtaking and passing another bike or vehicle.
- Riding two abreast on roads is permitted.
headlight and a red rear reflector. At night, you may be able to see them, but that does not mean they can see you.
Remember, you may ride far enough from the road edge to avoid potholes, rough pavement, storm drains, and pavement joints, and to avoid pedestrians, dogs, parked vehicles, and other objects. You may occupy any part of a lane to stay safe. Never compromise your safety for the convenience of a motorist behind you.
You should also be careful when riding in groups, as your safety may be in the hands of another cyclist. A sudden hazard not visible to those following could lead to an unexpected braking or swerve, and in turn, several riders going down. Cycle with those you trust who have proven to be safety conscious and not overly concerned about impressing everyone with speed or daring.
Be Prepared for the What Ifs – You Really Need Insurance:
Not only should you protect yourself physically with the proper gear, you should also protect yourself financially by having health insurance before you ride. Bike accidents do happen, and if a motor vehicle is involved, it generally does not go well for the cyclist. Cyclists can and do suffer more than minor scrapes and bruises, so having health insurance is a must.
Sometimes riders are injured by uninsured or underinsured motorists. If you have un- and underinsured motorist coverage (known as UM/UIM) on your auto policy, your auto insurance will cover you while riding your bike if you are injured by such a motorist. Some cyclists purchase umbrella coverage that can increase the limits of their UM/UIM coverage.
Finally, for the serious cyclists, because of the expense in buying and maintaining bikes and their components, you should consider getting bike insurance to cover your investment. Having an accident is bad enough, but having your bike or any of its parts destroyed will make you feel even worse. Look for a quality insurance company that covers everything on your bike, including the frame, for accidents and theft.
At Rowley Chapman & Barney, our bicycle accident attorneys have the expertise and experience to help you through any serious cycling accident you may have. We know how terrible a bicycle accident can be, and can help you get the medical care and bike repair or replacement you need. We know how to evaluate bicycle values and can find experts who can prove your bike’s value. If you need our help, just give us a call at (480) 833-1113 or send me an email to [email protected].