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Riding Your Bicycle: How to Protect Yourself

More people are looking for alternative means of transportation, such as bicycles. This has led to more collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles, often causing severe injuries.
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    June 26, 2009 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Riding Your Bicycle: How to Protect Yourself

Article provided by Jacobs & Jacobs
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During these tough economic times, people are looking for alternative, more cost-effective means of transportation. This has led to an increase of bicycles on the road and to more collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles, often causing severe injuries. Both motor vehicle drivers and bicyclists need to know the laws and how to protect themselves.

Connecticut Laws Protecting Bicyclists

Laws regarding bicycle operation are for the safety of riders as well as motorists sharing the road. Connecticut has specific laws governing bicycle operation and safety that every bicyclist should know. For instance, bicyclists must ride on the right side of the road and stay as close to the curb as possible when making turns across roadways. Many cities and towns also have ordinances prohibiting bikes from riding on sidewalks. Bicyclists must abide by traffic laws and employ proper safety procedures, such as using hand signals when turning and having his or her bike equipped with a lighted lamp and reflectors. Additionally, bicyclists under the age of 16 must wear helmets. In fact, parents may incur a fine for their child's failure to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle.

Motor vehicle drivers must follow particular laws when encountering bicyclists on roadways. For example, a motorist is required to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian or person operating a bicycle. A driver must also maintain a safe distance, three feet or more, when passing a bicyclist on a roadway. This is often called the "three feet rule." Motor vehicle operators who fail to abide by these traffic laws may be penalized for their infractions. If a bicyclist is injured by a driver's violation of the three feet rule, the penalties increase in severity depending on the injuries sustained and the circumstances surrounding the collision.

What Causes Injury?

Most collisions between motor vehicles and bicycles are caused by the negligence of the driver or the bicyclist; injury to the bicyclist is often the result. Common errors of bicycle and motor vehicle operators may produce collisions. Some common errors of bicyclists are ignoring traffic signals (yield signs), riding on roadway shoulders while facing oncoming motor vehicles (wrong side of the road) and not knowing how to ride alongside motor vehicles safely.

Likewise, many motorists do not know how to drive safely alongside bicycles. Some common driver errors include failing to look for bicycles, pulling out in front of bicyclists, opening motor vehicle doors into bicyclists, turning into bicyclists or failing to take bicyclists into consideration when obeying traffic signs and signals.

How to Protect Yourself

As a bicyclist, it is important to protect yourself while on the road. If you do not follow traffic signals and safety precautions and are injured, your right to recover compensation for your injuries may be greatly reduced. Therefore, you as a bicyclist must take steps to keep yourself physically safe, such as:
-Keep your bike maintained and regularly inspected by a professional
-Wear a properly fitted helmet
-Follow traffic laws; use proper hand signals, ride on the right side of the road, ride with traffic, pass on the left (when vehicular cycling or integrated traffic cycling) and use the travel lane (designated bicycle lane)
-Be visible and wear clothing appropriate for the conditions, including bright clothing, proper footwear, sunglasses and clothes that are not too baggy (make sure your pants cannot get caught in the bike chain)
-Use lights when riding at night and wear reflective clothing
-Know how to make an emergency stop and be aware of any hazards in your area
-Be alert to your surroundings and other drivers at all times

The Importance of Uninsured/Underinsured Insurance Coverage

Most drivers know how crucial it is to have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). However, many bicyclists are not aware of how UM/UIM coverage could be beneficial for them. There is a misconception that you must own a motor vehicle to have such coverage, but this is not the case. It is possible to have nonowner UM/UIM coverage to protect yourself in the event that you (as a bicyclist) are in a collision with an uninsured/underinsured motor vehicle and suffer injury or property damage. UM/UIM coverage can protect you by paying for medical bills and property damage if the person that hit you does not have insurance or does not have insurance sufficient to cover the amount of damages incurred. It is important to know that you do not have to own a motor vehicle to protect yourself through insurance coverage.

Speak With an Attorney

Know your rights and how to protect them. If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision involving a bicycle, contact a personal injury lawyer in your area. An attorney will be able to answer any questions you may have and help you determine the best course of action based on your situation.

Article provided by Jacobs & Jacobs
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