Every day, more and more people hit Chicago bike trails – either to exercise, as a means of transportation, or even simply to have fun. This expansion will only continue as the weather warms up and spring begins. It is always good to have more people choosing to bike instead of choosing less sustainable means of transportation. Unfortunately, more cyclists can mean more congestion on the bike paths and more accidents.
Bicycle accidents are a risk you always face, even when on a bike trail separate from cars. On these trails, people often make dangerous decisions, because they feel overconfident in the safety of these havens. They forget that cycling accidents can happen between two bikes or a bicycle and a pedestrian just as easily as with a car. Just as commonly, cyclists find themselves crashing due to stationary obstacles or poor road conditions. When these occur, you may be safer than if thrown by a moving car, but any crash can have serious, or even deadly, consequences.
Preventing Chicago Bike Trail Accidents
Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent becoming a victim of a bike accident on one of Chicago’s bike trails. The following safety tips will help you to prevent bike path accidents and avoid becoming a crash statistic.
- Always be aware of your surroundings. You never know when a child may dash into the bike path or if there will be a pothole in your way. Stay aware of your environment at all times in order to best prevent a surprise that causes you to swerve out of control.
- When using a bike as a group, follow each other in a single file line. There are so many risks involved with trying to cycle side by side on a bike path that it is not worth it. First of all, you are interrupting the flow of traffic. You will block bikes trying to travel in the other direction. Secondly, you are more prone to risky passing behaviors. Overlapping wheels cause so many accidents, and to make matters worse, a crash will bring down the whole group.
- Follow traffic laws as if you were on a regular road. Even though you are away from cars, you do no one any favors by violating the rules of the road. Heed right-of-way, use signals, and always be careful when turning.
- Take extra caution when entering the bike trail. When you are entering the path, you do not have right-of-way. Yield to other cyclists.
- Slow down and take care in poor weather. It is harder to control your bike in the rain or snow. Make sure to take it easy. It isn’t a race.
- Pass only when you have space. Give other cyclists wide berth, and only cross back in front of others if you know you will not cause a crash. In general, try to avoid passing in heavy traffic.
- Don’t brake when turning a corner. You should only brake when fully upright in order to avoid a crash. That means you need to slow down before you hit a curve, not once you are in it.
- Relax. It has been shown that tense riding can actually increase the likelihood of a crash. If you feel nervous when riding around a lot of other people, try to use the trails when they are less busy.
- Respect other cyclists and pedestrians. When we respect all other people on the trail, we are less likely to get hurt. If someone else insists on breaking a rule, don’t get too upset. You’re better off letting someone take your right-of-way than enduring an accident.
When you keep all these tips in mind, you are likely to enjoy your time on Chicago’s bike trails without incident. Unfortunately, many cyclists remain unaware of the rules and end up risking other lives due to risky bike path behavior. Our car accident attorneys serve clients throughout the Chicago area, including Aurora, Elgin, Hinsdale, Joliet, Naperville, and Waukegan. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident while cycling due to someone else’s negligence, that person may be liable for your medical bills and other damages. Contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 to set up a free consultation on your case. We are happy to help in any way possible.