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7 ways to stay safe on your bicycle

Spring is here and summer is soon to follow. That means it's time to dust off your bicycle helmet, oil up the chain and go outside for a bike ride in the fresh air. It also means it's time to review the most important elements of bicycle safety.

Most personal injury lawyers will agree: It's better to be safe than sorry. So many bicyclists are injured each year, and -- even when the accident was the fault of a vehicle driver -- the vast majority of bicycle injuries could have been avoided.

Tips for avoiding injuries on your bicycle

The following pieces of bicycle safety advice should be a requirement, but many bicyclists ignore them or forget about them. You may have heard them before, but repetition is key to remembering and implementing these safety tips, so let's take a quick inventory:

1. Always wear a helmet. Vehicle drivers are protected by airbags, metal frames, antilock breaks and all kinds of modern safety features. What are bicyclists protected by? Nothing. The only thing you have between yourself and a traumatic brain injury that could leave you paralyzed or dead is your helmet.

2. Move predictably through traffic. You may be smaller and more nimble than a car when you're riding a bicycle. However, as soon as you navigate traffic in ways that vehicles cannot, you increase your chances of getting hit.

3. Increase your visibility: Wear high visibility clothing such as a safety vest, and make sure your bike is equipped with front and rear lights and reflectors.

4. Stay attentive: Don't use headphones or talk on your cellphone while riding. These and other distractions increase your accident risks.

5. Signal your moves: Look both ways, look again and signal your turns. Always be sure you make eye contact with drivers. Never assume they can see you, and never assume they will actually stop.

6. Obey the law. Traffic laws and traffic lights are there for a reason. Obeying them will help you stay safe. Breaking them increases your chances of injury.

7. Check your bike for problems: Is your bike in need of a tuneup or is something broken? Fix any issues and be sure to adjust your bicycle so you can ride it comfortably.

Did you get hurt in a car versus bicycle crash?

If a motorist hurt you while you were riding bike, you might have a viable claim for damages. Vehicle drivers owe a higher level of care to bicyclists when they're sharing the road with them. However, bicyclists must also follow the law and be attentive to avoid crashes. A Maine personal injury lawyer can help you evaluate your injuries and accident to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your potential claim for damages.

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