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Tips to help California bicyclists avoid an accident

Now that spring is upon us, people are finding excuses to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather. Whether this means taking a walk or riding your bike, outdoor activities — especially around motor vehicles — often come with the risk of an accident. And as many of our San Francisco readers know, these types of accidents can lead to some rather serious injuries.

Though we know not all pedestrian accidents can be prevented, we wanted to at least share a few tips with our readers to help keep them safer, especially if they plan on riding a bicycle anytime soon.

The first and most common danger to bicyclists and pedestrians alike is visibility. In a majority of pedestrian strikes, drivers often admit that they did not see the person until it was too late. While it’s rather difficult to compensate for distracted driving, bicyclists can help avoid an accident by wearing bright or reflective clothing as well as riding in the same direction as traffic.

Because the 3-foot law does not go into effect here in California until September, bicyclists may want to move over as far as possible to the side of the road to provide an ample amount of space between themselves and motor vehicles. It’s important to remember that the burden of safety does not rest solely on the shoulders of bicyclists but motorists as well. When turning right, motorists should be aware of their surroundings and merge carefully into bike lanes so as to avoid an accident.

While there are a handful of other things that riders can do to stay safe while biking — including not wearing headphones in both ears and not operating a bicycle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol — wearing a helmet is a great way to prevent a serious head injury or brain trauma from occurring during an accident. And although this won’t protect a rider from all injuries suffered in a crash, it may prevent at least two that can be fatal.

Source: The Appeal-Democrat, “May is Bicycle Safety Month,” Monica Vaughan, May 4, 2014

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