As the weather warms up and the COVID emergency diminishes, people are getting out more and riding their bicycles. We all like the exercise and low gas costs of riding a bike, but there’s no doubt that bicycle accidents are a hazard of the road. Although St. Louis has fewer fatalities than a big city like Los Angeles, a bike accident is serious business. To avoid being injured by a careless driver while riding your bike, there are a few things you can do.
Defensive Biking Techniques
Missouri does not have a mandatory bicycle helmet law, but the city of St. Louis requires helmets for bike riders under 18. All riders should wear helmets and personal safety equipment when riding on public roads. If your local municipality has different rules for helmets, sidewalk riding, and other equipment, make sure you know them before venturing out.
Your bicycle should always be in good repair, with full tires and gears and chain in working order. Carry spare parts with you if you plan to make a long trip. Breaking down is enough of a headache in a car, but it can be deadly when you must walk fifteen miles along the road lugging your bicycle.
- On the Road, Obey the Law. Bicycles are considered “vehicles” according to most traffic laws, so you must obey the same laws as everyone else. Travel on the right, in the direction of traffic. Stop at all marked intersections. Signal your turns. Watch out for pedestrians—you’re still bigger than they are.
- Watch Out for Doors. Cars in traffic may be able to see you, but people exiting their vehicles may not. A frequent cause of cyclist injury is a door flung open suddenly in their path. Give parked cars as much clearance as possible and be alert for doors flying open. In the same way, be on the lookout for parked cars suddenly becoming moving cars and swerving into the bike lane. Even if a driver checks their surroundings, bikes can be hard to see in side mirrors, so look out for them before they hit you.
- You Don’t Have to Stay in Your Lane. If there is a bike lane, you should use it, but if the bike lane is blocked, you don’t need to stay there. Merge carefully into the traffic lane if there are parked cars, debris, water, or other obstructions in your way. Although Missouri generally allows sidewalk riding, it is prohibited in business districts. Staying in the street is better.
- The Law Says Use Lights. You are required to have front and rear lights and reflectors on your bike at all times. Although fluorescent gear is not required, remember that lights can only be seen in the dark. Reflective vests or bright colors are highly recommended during the day. Although you are more visible during the day, wearing a strobe or other high-visibility light is not a bad idea.
- Intersections Are Not Your Friends. Making left and right turns are hazardous activities when riding your bike in traffic. During a right turn, you are sitting in a car’s biggest blind spot, and the driver is probably looking to their left. Turning left, you must sit in the middle of the intersection and compete with cars also turning left and eyeballing traffic coming from the right. Be careful, and at especially hazardous crossings, use the crosswalk.
Drunk Drivers and Drunk Cyclists
Drinking, driving, and cycling don’t mix. Drunk drivers have trouble seeing cars, never mind bicycles. Cyclists should use extra caution at partying times of the year, like New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July.
Drinking while cycling is no better an idea. Drinking slows your reflexes, impairs your balance and vision, and lowers your inhibitions. Riding a small, light, low-visibility vehicle in traffic under those conditions isn’t safe. Stay safe and stay sober when riding.
When to Call Us
Sometimes you can do everything right and still be hit because another driver is careless, distracted, or drunk. If you’ve been involved in an accident on your bicycle because of another driver’s negligence, you should consult a legal professional right away. OnderLaw is here to assist you in getting the compensation you need for your injuries and help you get back on your feet.
If you were injured in a bike accident in St. Louis that wasn’t your fault, call the St. Louis Bicycle Accident Attorneys of OnderLaw today. We can help you pursue the compensation you need to get your life back on track.