By Grace Aleman
Lately, more and more people have taken to biking as a method of transportation, hobby, or sport - which is great! Biking is an eco-friendly, healthy, and fun alternative to commuting by car or other endurance sports like running. Unfortunately, with the recent influx of bikers on the streets of Los Angeles there has also been an increase in hit and run collisions between bikers and automobiles. A recent LA Times article discussed this upward trend in collisions and noted that from 2002 to 2012, hit and run collisions increased by 42%. This totalled 661 hit and run collisions in 2012 in Los Angeles County alone. Los Angeles has, however, been consistently adding bike lanes in an attempt to meet the needs of the growing number of bikers. Despite this effort, many streets still lack bike lanes, and some streets even lack an adequate shoulder for bikers to safely ride in near traffic. Ideally, all streets should have bike lanes, and until Los Angeles is able to mimic the bike-friendly atmosphere of places like Davis, California and Portland, Oregon, here are here are some biking tips from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration to help keep you safe!
- Wear a Helmet: Though wearing helmet doesn’t automatically make you safe and indestructible, it will protect your brain (a rather important body part) if you should get in a collision.
- Stay visible: Wearing bright colors during the day, and using lights at night will make you more visible to cars and keep them from accidentally getting too close to you. Staying visible also means only biking where cars can see you. Riding in cars’ blind spots is almost a guaranteed way to get hit by a car.
- Obey traffic laws: Though bikes are not cars, they are still subject to the same laws as cars. This means that you should always ride in the same direction as traffic, obey traffic lights, stop at stop signs, use hand signals to indicate turns, and all other rules of the roads. By following the traffic laws, you are less likely to make an unexpected maneuver and surprise a driver which could result in a collision.
- Be alert: Watch cars to ensure you are staying out of their way. Additionally, be on the look out for cracks, potholes, people getting out of cars, and anything else that might cause you to fall off your bike.
- Be predictable: Potentially the MOST important of any of these bike tips. Being predictable means biking in a straight line so that cars are able to predict where you will be. Weaving in and out of cars or spontaneously changing directions can cause drivers to get confused making you more likely to get in a collision.
Happy biking and stay safe!