May 2015

Lack Of Road Maintenance: A Cause Of Bicycle Accidents?

Have you ever had an accident or a near miss on your bicycle because of poor road maintenance?  If you have, you’ll understand why you need to keep a good lookout for road damage whenever you are riding.

Maybe you’ve never had an accident because of an unsafe surface or a giant hole appearing right in front of you.  Perhaps you thought that damage was only sustained by motor vehicles when they drove in unsafe conditions.  Now that we’ve pointed it out, you’re going to notice a lack of road maintenance everywhere you ride!

 

When you’re travelling on two small wheels, small holes in the road can cause you big problems with staying upright.  Loose surfaces are a particular problem too.  A couple of bits of gravel will most likely go unnoticed by you but a pile that’s been dumped in the bike lane and forgotten will cause you a major problem if you don’t have a safe way to ride around it.

Road maintenance is an issue that is taken seriously by local government and in most cases you won’t come across anything major that impedes your progress.  In the odd instances you do, you should take care to avoid them at all costs.  As mentioned, a small problem can become a large problem for a cyclist.

If you come across a lack of road maintenance you should definitely take the time to report it to your local authority.  Take note of the location and maybe snap a quick picture if you are so inclined.  It should be easy enough to call or email the details through.  If you have experienced an accident in a particular area, you can bet that others will have a similar experience.

When you are riding you should keep a good lookout at the road ahead.  Many new cyclists are so busy concentrating on road safety, other vehicles and feeling confident enough to ride near the traffic that they may not look far enough ahead to avoid an obstacle placed in their path.  You should make this an early part of your riding habit so you can see possible problems before you find yourself riding through them.

Should the worst happen and you find yourself off your bicycle due to a rough surface, obstacles in the bike lane or potholes on the road, make sure you take down the details of the incident.  If you have our bicycle accident assistant app this will be a lot easier for you (you can download it from the link so you are prepared ahead of time).  Take photos of the road and what you believe caused your accident.  You can refer to some things you should do if you’re in an accident and some ways to ruin your claim in some of our other posts.

Bicycle safety when riding on the roadway is very important and a lack of road maintenance can be a major cause of cycling accidents.  By keeping a good lookout and reporting any roadways that require maintenance you’ll give yourself a much better chance of not coming off your bike in an accident.

That’s what we all want, right?

How To Ensure A Legal And Safe Night Ride

Are you intimately familiar with the road laws as they apply to bicycles being ridden at night? Perhaps you assumed as long as you took the basic precautions to make sure you can be seen that would be enough? You might be surprised to discover there are some actual laws that say what you must do when riding in the dark.

It’s pretty obvious that the number one thing that will ensure a safe night ride every time you go out is to make sure that you are visible to all motorists. If every car, truck and cyclist can see you, there’s a lot less chance of you being involved in an accident. Most people wear high visibility clothing and attach some kind of light to their bicycle but here’s the list of all of the equipment you must use by law when riding at night:

  • Any lamp attached to your bicycle must be a white light. It must illuminate the area in front of your bicycle and be visible from the front and the sides for 300 feet. So you need a fairly decent white light.
  • You must have a red reflector fitted to the back of your bicycle which can be seen from a distance of 500 feet should a motor vehicle use their upper beam.
  • You need to have a lot of reflectors! Any pedal, shoe or ankle that can be seen from the front and the rear of the bike needs to have either a white or yellow reflector attached. These reflectors need to be visible for 200 feet.
  • You can decide whether you put side reflectors on your wheels/tires or on another part of the bicycle. If you don’t have them fitted to the wheels you must have them fitted in two places. Work out where the center of the bicycle is – then attach reflectors to the front and the rear of the center. The reflectors must be yellow or white towards the front and white or red towards the rear. Remember if you have side reflectors fitted to your wheels you’re not required to add any extra front and fear reflectors.
  • If you choose you can attach the white lamp mentioned at the start to your actual person instead of having it fitted to your bicycle. If you choose this option, the light must still be a white light and must still be visible from the front and the side from a distance of 300 feet.

As you can see the list above is fairly long but there’s nothing really complicated to be done. Get a decent white light and attach the right colour reflectors where they need to be and you’ll easily stay within the law. And of course, remember to keep your wits about you when you are riding at night. Even with reflectors and lights you need to make sure other road users can see you coming and are taking the required action to avoid a collision with you.
Remember we are here should you need assistance in the event of a bicycle accident. Grab our bicycle assistance app here and you’ll always have it on hand should you need it.

Can You Legally Ride On The Sidewalk In California?

Where cyclists are ‘allowed’ to ride is often a topic of hot debate amongst both riders and vehicle drivers.  Many people believe that cyclists can choose whether they ride on the road or whether they decide to stay on the sidewalk.  This is not actually the case.

The truth about where you can legally ride your bicycle is that the law differs depending what city in California you are riding in.

The California Vehicle Code states that it does not prevent any local authority from regulating their own laws about bicycle registrations and either parking or riding a bicycle in an area designated for pedestrians.  This ruling stands as long as any rulings made by local authorities do not conflict with any part of the California Vehicle Code.

What this means in basic terms is that you need to check with your local government authority to find out what the rules are in your particular city with regards to riding your bicycle on the sidewalk.  Then if you move to a new city, you’ll need to check again to make sure you’re still following the law in the local area.

This could all get a bit confusing but you need to be sure before you start using the sidewalks that have been designated for pedestrian use.

Regardless of whether you are able to use the sidewalks when you are out cycling, you need to remember that you should always yield to pedestrians.  On crosswalks and on the sidewalk, pedestrians have right of way which you should already be aware of.  When you are out cycling, the Vehicle Code says you should always ‘exercise due care’ for any pedestrians who may be on the roadway.  This applies even if the pedestrians are not using signed crosswalks.  Basically you have to keep a look out for them and take measures to ensure there is not a collision between you.

When you make sure you are familiar with all applicable bicycle laws you can help keep yourself safe.  Being aware whenever you are riding is, of course, the next step.  Many cyclists prefer to not ever ride on the sidewalk and keep their riding on the roadway.  This way they aren’t in danger of coming across something blocking the sidewalk or someone stepping out in front of them onto the pathway.  This is great advice and something you may want to consider.

Many riders who aren’t quite as confident cycling in traffic feel that the sidewalk could be a far safer choice.  As you can see this is not always the case and you should carefully weigh up your options before deciding where to ride.

Remember to download our Bicycle Accident Assistant App just in case you find yourself in a collision on the sidewalk.  You’ll want somewhere quick and easy to record the details and take photographs of the site where the even occurred.  Having the app already installed on your phone will save you a lot of stress in the event that you need it right away.

Go on.  Download it now!