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6 ways that a bicyclist may stay safe on California roads

Bicyclists understand the joy of two-wheeled transportation along with the health benefits. But they also know about the dangers they face from motor vehicle drivers. A driver mistake can lead to a serious injury or even a fatality to bicyclists.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a total of 846 cyclists died on U.S. roads in 2019. That represented a slight decline from the 857 who died in 2018. However, injuries climbed. The NHTSA reported that roughly 49,000 cyclists sustained injuries in crashes in 2019, representing a 5.4% increase from the 47,000 cyclists injured in 2018.

More than 400 deaths in California from 2018 to 2020

California also has seen its share of cyclist fatalities. The NHTSA noted that in 2019, the state recorded the second highest number of such deaths with 133, behind Florida (161). That fatality number represented a 14% decrease compared with the 155 cyclists who died in California in 2018.

Outside magazine performed a similar analysis of bicycle fatalities and determined that nearly 700 cyclists died in the country in 2020. According to the publication, California recorded the most cyclist deaths with 118 that year.

Be visible, alert to distracted drivers

What will it take to get drivers to be more aware of bicyclists? Public service announcements only help so much. Cyclists really must take safety matters into their own hands.

Here are some rules to abide by and just may keep you safe when riding your bicycle:

  • Wear a helmet: A spill on a bicycle or collision with a vehicle may lead to a serious head injury. A helmet protects your noodle.
  • Let drivers easily see you: Stay visible by wearing bright-colored clothing, including vest, pants and jacket. When riding at dusk or in darkness, wear reflective clothing, place reflective tape on your bike and use lights. Consider earing a headlamp.
  • Rely on hand signals: This allows you to inform car drivers that you are making a left or right turn. Also, make eye contact with drivers.
  • Remain alert to your surroundings: By paying attention to your riding, you likely will not be confronted with surprises such as a pedestrian crossing the street.
  • Abide by traffic laws: Stop, yield and do not speed.
  • Be aware of distracted drivers: As more people use smartphones and cellphones behind the wheel, they have become obvious road hazards. Cyclists must take great care to recognize distracted drivers.

When you get on your bicycle, always focus on safety. It just may save your life.

Keep safety a priority

The popularity of cycling remains undeniable. Just look at the increased number of bicycle paths and trails found throughout the state. But cyclists always must remember not to put their own safety in the hands of others.