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For all you dedicated West Virginia bicyclists and triathletes, it’s never too early to get your bikes ready for the outdoor rides that we’ve all been looking forward to. After all, getting your bike in ride-ready condition will see you through the spring, summer and fall months, letting you enjoy being outdoors, ride to work or school, and train for your next race or event.

Before you ride, make sure to give your bike a thorough inspection so you can lower the chance of being in an accident:

  • Check the frame for areas where maintenance may be necessary – Maybe a bent frame or broken reflector?

  • Check your tires – They probably need air and you’ll want to be sure that they are in good condition.

  • Adjust and tighten your seat.

  • Look over the wheels and spokes for any maintenance or replacements needed.

  • Check your brake levers, lines and pads to make sure they are working properly.

  • Examine the shifters and chain; and give them some oil made specifically for bikes. If your chain comes loose while you are riding, it can result in a bad accident with serious injuries.

When you ride, make yourself as noticeable as possible. Wear bright-colored clothing during the day and light clothing with reflectors in the evening to make you more visible. DON’T FORGET YOUR HELMET! It can protect you from serious head or brain injury if you are involved in an accident.

Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as car and truck drivers, but accidents are much more life-threatening for cyclists. Ride defensively and don’t assume that drivers will notice you or respect your rights. This is certainly not fair but it’s the best way to stay safe.

When you are riding:

  • Obey all traffic laws

  • Do not dart out into traffic

  • Stay on the right side of the road

  • Travel in the same direction as traffic

  • Do not weave between cars

  • Use proper hand signals when turning

  • Stop at red lights and stop signs

  • Yield the right of way when indicated or as any driver should

It’s no secret that bicycle accidents can occur under many scenarios and, sometimes, with dire consequences. Some common hazards you may face as a cyclist include:

  • Reckless drivers: Drivers who exhibit reckless behaviors such as excessive speeding could pose a substantial threat to cyclists who may be unable to reach safety when a fast-moving vehicle crosses into their path.

  • Driver inattention: Drivers who lose focus on their driving put the safety of everyone nearby, including cyclists, at risk.

  • Visibility: Even if cyclists make every effort to improve their visibility, if a driver fails to spot a cyclist before changing lanes or navigating a turn, the results could prove catastrophic. Be aware of visibility concerns and obstructions for all drivers when you’re riding and ride defensively.

  • Intersection hazards: Intersections are a hotspot for cyclist-related collisions, as drivers might not always yield the right-of-way to a cyclist before crossing through the area.

  • Parked cars and trucks: Be prepared for parked vehicles to pull out or for drivers to open their doors.

What to do after a bicycle crash?

The first thing to do after a bike accident, of course, is to check yourself for any injuries. Call 911 if you believe you have suffered a serious injury or have someone contact them for you. Remember that a broken helmet may be an indication that you should have an evaluation for a neck, spine or brain injury. If you aren’t in need of urgent care, there are a few other things you can do:

  • Remain at the scene of the accident until the police arrive

  • File a police report

  • Provide an accurate statement for the accident report

  • Write down the driver’s information: name, contact info, license plate number, insurance

  • Obtain contact information for any witnesses

  • Document any and all injuries with photos and notes

Being cautious as a bicycle rider can help you prevent being injured; and, we at WVLawyer PLLC hope that all of your rides will be accident-free. A bicycle-related collision could, however, be more than simply a fall and a few bruises. If you’ve been the victim of a serious bicycle accident involving a car or truck, put yourself in the best position to receive the justice you deserve and call us for a free consultation. We want to help you get back onto that bike saddle!

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