Cycling is a great way to get around. It burns calories, it's good for the environment, and it's very convenient allowing you to stash your bike easily when you get to the other end.
But you'd never know that cycling was such a good way to get around to listen to the way people talk about cyclists. It seems that bikes are about the least popular people on the roads and a lot of cars will treat them as nuisances. This is fine - it's their loss - but when it leads to an accident because a car was being impatient it can be serious.
If you cycle then, it's important to know your rights, to know how to avoid an accident, and to know how to act in case of one. Read on for some tips and pointers that every cyclist should know.
The most important thing to consider of all here is of course just staying safe and this should always be your absolute priority.
Before you even begin then, you should ensure that you have invested in the best equipment to help you stayas safe as possible. This means safety equipment of course - such as helmets and high-visibility jackets if you intend to ride at night; but it also means investing in a good bike to begin with. The better condition your bike is, and the more comfortable you are riding, the less likely you'll be to slip over and the more alert and switched on you'll tend to be when riding.
Also important is to make sure that you are alert and that you know what you're doing at all times. This means you shouldn't ride when you're not fully cognizant whether that's due to tiredness or alcohol. Drinking and cycling is a serious offense just like drink driving.
You should also respect the other cars on the road and not take advantage of your small size and relative manoeuvrability. Bike riders aren't always the innocent victims here - often they will cut up traffic and pull out at junctions when they shouldn't and this can all be very dangerous and potentially cause an accident. Be sensible and observe the highway code as you would in a car or on foot.
One more tip: don't ride on the pavement. It's illegal in most places and if you hurt someone you will be in a lot of trouble (not to mention it's not great for your conscience).
What to do if You're Hit
If you do get hit still, then the first thing to do is to make sure you're okay. Get up slowly but then get out of the road and out of harm's way as quickly as possible (your bike isn't important in this situation).
Once safely out of the way you should speak to the driver and exchange details as you would in a car accident. Their insurance should pay out for damages, and if you are injured then you might want to take legal action. Even if you feel fine right now, things like whiplash can set in after a while and could potentially render you unable to continue with work for example.
As well as getting the details from the driver you should also write down the number plate just in case they've tried to give you an incorrect name. Next you should take photographs of yourself, of the road, of your bike and of the car if you can in case anything is called into dispute later. Finally, speak to bystanders and take their details too if they're willing - they may be able to act as witnesses and thus help you to win a case.
Finally, call yourself a cab or call a friend - it's not a good idea to get back on the bike now as you'll probably be a bit shaken up and your bike may be damaged which both increase the likelihoods that you'll have another accident. Once you get home get yourself to a doctor to check yourself over - again this is important even if you feel fine right now.
Be safe and act sensibly and you shouldn't have any problems, but if you do have an accident, make sure you follow these tips so that you stand the best chance of getting compensation.
The author of this article, Karen Fernandes, is a freelance blogger who enjoys sharing her ideas and experiences online. She is associated with T.E. Paralegals, a team of accident lawyers. Her hobbies include gardening and pottery. She likes travelling and exploring new places in her leisure time.
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