“Don’t Let It Happen To You”
by Marcia Simon
The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” may be a cliché, but it’s still sound advice for cyclists. Gary Brustin, a Beverly Hills attorney who specializes in bicycle accident claims, emphasizes that anticipating dangerous traffic situations is one of the best ways to prevent mishaps.
In his talks to Southern California cycling clubs, Brustin details 6 traffic scenarios that commonly result in accidents. They are:
- A motorist makes a left-hand turn in front of a cyclist coming from the opposite direction.
- A motorist at a stop sign on a side street pulls out in front of a cyclist entering the intersection.
- A motorist making a right-hand turn cuts off a cyclist riding parallel to the vehicle.
- A cyclist is hit from behind by an overtaking motorist. This most commonly occurs at night in rural areas. It’s often caused by insufficient lights and reflectors on the bicycle.
- A motorist pulls out from a driveway in front of a cyclist.
- A motorist parked along the road opens the door into an approaching cyclist.
According to the National highway Traffic Safety Administration, 80 percent of cycling accidents could be avoided. Brustin says visibility is the key. To make yourself more conspicuous, he and other officials recommend the following:
- Become a part of the traffic instead of just riding beside it. For instance, use the specially designated traffic lanes to make turns. Assert your right to move out of bike lanes whenever necessary.
- Wear brightly colored apparel.
- Slow down at intersections.
- Don’t antagonize motorists with obscene shouts or gestures.
- Use hand signals well in advance.
- Make sure your lights are working. Reflectors alone are not sufficient for night riding.
- Avoid congested public roads and peak rush-hour traffic.
- Carry a card with emergency information in case of an accident.
- Always wear a hard-shell helmet.