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Santa Barbara’s temperate climate makes it possible to bike all year long, and many people opt to cycle for the commute to work. However, just like any transportation, there are some inherent risks to biking. Here are some smart ways to lower your chances of getting in a bike accident, and tips for how to be prepared in the unfortunate event that a bike accident occurs.

Defensive Biking: Avoid the Most Common Bike Accidents

The most common type of bike accident is when a vehicle is turning – either left or right – and does not see the cyclist. To help avoid bike accidents when you are riding , you should always seek out routes that have clearly marked bicycling lanes, keep your bicycle in tip-top shape and take defensive steps like these:

  • Dress brightly – While this seems to be common sense, a surprising number of cyclists take life in hand by simply wearing dark clothes. This is especially important at night, but even day time is risky, particularly on cloudy days or around dusk.
  • Use lights – Gear up your bike with highly visible lights and reflectors on the front, back and tires to improve the odds of vehicle drivers being able to see you. You can throw on a headlamp for good measure.
  • Monitor speed – While inching along at a snail’s pace is not practical, racing at breakneck speeds is also unadvisable. Go at a pace that allows you plenty of reaction time in the event that a car swerves into your path or a car door swings open suddenly.
  • Be vigilant – The responsibility of noticing your surroundings technically applies equally to all on the road. However, in a bike vs. car moment, the bike is most always going to end up taking the harder impact. This means bicyclists should be hyper aware of their surroundings, and take pains to steer clear of inherently dangerous intersections and overly crowded roadways.  

Proactive Planning: Be Prepared In Case of a Bike Accident

If you bike daily, there is a fairly good chance that an accident will happen at one point or another. Knowing in advance what to do can help you stay cool and get the settlement you deserve. The steps to take are similar to those you would take if in a car collision.

  • Call the police – Filing a report at the scene of the bike accident greatly increases the chance of having an accurate account filed if you need to submit an insurance claim.
  • Exchange information – Take down the vehicle driver’s license plate, insurance information, address, and phone number. Also take names and phone numbers of any witnesses. The police will gather all this info when they arrive on the scene, but it never hurts to have it all for your records too.
  • Maintain innocenceWhen an accident occurs, it can rattle you emotionally and send your thoughts flying every which way. Do not admit fault at the scene, as there may be more to the situation than you are currently aware of.
  • Don’t downplay damageYou may feel just fine after the accident as the adrenaline of shock courses through your body, but that doesn’t mean you weren’t injured. Injuries can often show up days later. Similarly, your bike may look fine at first glance, but you’ll want to have a full inspection and tune up to make sure there’s nothing damaged.
  • Get legal representation – If you will be giving the insurance company a call, it is best to first contact a lawyer. We can advise you on what information you’ll want to provide the insurance company, as well as alert you to any potential missteps that people take with insurance when reporting a claim.

Biking is great in so many ways  – improving our health, lowering our impact on the environment, and allowing us to slow down and enjoy the surroundings of our beautiful area. Being defensive in your riding practices and prepared in the event of an accident will help you enjoy these benefits that much more.