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Whether you enjoy riding your bike on Albuquerque streets or on mountain trails near Taos, you are not alone. Warmer weather brings an increase in the number of cyclists on the road, and thereby an increase in bicycle accidents. It is important to prepare for the new season and protect yourself from becoming the victim of a bicycle accident.
There are things you can do to prevent becoming the victim of a costly bike accident. From knowing how to use the right equipment to learning the rules of the road, this article covers everything you need to do when getting your bike ready for riding season.
If you have been involved in a bicycle accident, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with our New Mexico personal injury attorneys. We want you riding safely on New Mexico roads, and returning home securely.
PREPPING YOUR EQUIPMENT FOR THE NEW SEASON
Since New Mexico is a place with cold winters, it may have been a while since you have ridden your bike. Your bike will require maintenance to get it ready to ride. Here are some steps you can take to get your bike ready for riding season:
Check Your Tires
Extensive riding can wear down the tread on your tires. Replace your tires if they look as though they are balding, and check if your tires look flat. Inflate your tires if needed to achieve optimal tire pressure.
Wash Your Bike
It is important to keep your bike clean; a dirty bike will rust faster than a clean bike. Cleaning your bike at the beginning of the season, and regularly afterward, will extend the life of the frame and its components. After washing, clean your chain with a degreaser and then re-lubricate it.
Tune Up Your Bike
Check your brake before taking your bike out; your cables and housing may need replacement. You can do this yourself, or if you are not comfortable you can take your bike to a repair shop. If you choose to fix up your bicycle yourself to get ready for the season, you can find resources online to assist you.
BICYCLE RIDING SAFETY: EQUIPMENT AND SKILLS
Having the right equipment and the requisite skills are needed to keep you safe on New Mexico roads. The following tips will ensure you are prepared for your ride when you take the road.
Helmets provide protection for your head in case of an accident; they come in different styles and sizes. Choose a properly fitting helmet to wear whenever you are riding a bicycle.
There are other consequences to not wearing a helmet aside from injury; jurisdictions in many states have laws requiring helmet use for both children and adults. In New Mexico, riders 18 and under are required to wear a helmet. The best practice for bicycle riding safety is to wear a helmet regardless of whether or not it is required by law.
Correct Bicycle Size
Riding the right-sized bicycle is a very important element of keeping safe; riding a bike that is too large or too small can inhibit your balance and impede your ability to control the bicycle. A professional can help you find the right size bicycle for you when you purchase your bicycle. Check to make sure your bicycle is still a good fit; you should adjust your seat and handlebars if necessary, or you may need a new bicycle for this season.
Before taking your bicycle out on the road, you should have the appropriate skill level. If you are a beginner, you may have difficulty braking or turning, and you may feel intimidated on the road. It will take time and practice to become road-ready.
Aside from proper riding skills, you will need to be able to effectively communicate with other riders and drivers on the road, so practice until you are comfortable with signaling turns and alerting other riders when you are passing them. You can practice in non-road settings, such as a park, or take on-bike classes to improve your riding and communication skills.
KNOW YOUR LOCAL BICYCLE RIDING LAWS
Bicycle riders need to follow the rules of the road that all drivers do. New Mexico riders have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers and should be aware of the laws in this state governing both drivers and riders. For example, like drivers, riders are prohibited from traveling at excessive speeds, riding through red lights and stop signs, and riding under the influence.
There are additional bicycle riding laws that cyclists in New Mexico need to be aware of; these laws include helmet laws, sidewalk prohibition laws, and laws specifying where a rider should be on the road when there is no bike lane. For Example, New Mexico does not currently have a law or statute that specifically prohibits or authorizes the use of sidewalks for riders. A personal injury lawyer near you in New Mexico will know which statutes will apply to you and your case.
BICYCLE ACCIDENTS: CAUSES AND INJURIES
Bicycle accidents are preventable with the right safety equipment and skills. In addition to knowing the bicycle riding laws of your area, knowing the common causes of accidents can help you avoid becoming the victim of one.
Common Causes of Bike Accidents
There are a number of things people do or do not do that lead to collisions with cars and other bike riders. Human-error causes of bicycle accidents include:
- Failing to signal
- Failure to yield
- Impaired driving
- Blowing red lights and stop signs
- Weaving through Traffic
- Distracted Driving
Aside from human error, there are environmental causes of bicycle accidents that you should be aware of. Road conditions, such as icy roads or potholes, can present dangerous situations for riders. Always ride safely and remain aware of your surroundings when on the road.
Common Injuries from Biking Accidents
Injuries from bicycle accidents can range from minor, such as cuts and bruises, to severe, such as head trauma and broken bones. Riders can suffer from a combination of the two. Common injuries caused by bicycle accidents include:
- Scrapes and bruises
- Broken and fractured bones
- Facial injuries
- Neurological damage
- Ruptured discs
- Wrongful death
HOW TO AVOID AN ACCIDENT
There are preventative steps you can take to lower your risk of becoming a bicycle accident victim. For example, most bicycle-related accidents occur from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and from Midnight to 3 a.m., so be extra careful during those times. The following guidelines can help you ensure the safety of you and other cyclists around you.
Prepare for Your Ride
Make sure you are wearing the proper safety equipment before you get on the road. In addition to a helmet and a properly sized bicycle, you should wear bright clothing when riding during the day; at night, wear reflective clothing, and be sure to have a white front light and red backlight on your bicycle to ensure visibility even in poor conditions. Make sure there is only one rider per seat, and keep your hands on the handlebars at all times, aside from when signaling turns.
Drive Defensively and Predictably
Driving defensively means staying focused and alert, as well as doing these things:
- Keep an eye out for traffic signals and stop signs and obey each.
- Ride with the flow of traffic, not against it.
- Just as with driving, avoid texting while riding.
- Be sure to look out for potholes and other obstacles.
- Always signal before you turn.
It is best to avoid weaving in and out of traffic or frequently switching between riding on the road and the sidewalk. If sidewalk-riding is allowed in your area, it is best to stick to either road or sidewalk for much of your ride. If you choose the sidewalk, avoid riding into the road unless the sidewalk ends, or when you are avoiding pedestrians.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN IN AN ACCIDENT
Being in a bicycle accident can be a jarring experience. There are steps you need to take immediately after the accident and later on to protect yourself and ensure you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
First, you should seek medical assistance. Even if you seem uninjured, you may have a latent injury that requires medical attention. Be sure to document your injuries both with pictures and paperwork from your doctor.
Second, call the police. If you or anyone else is injured, call emergency medical services. The police will investigate and make a report of the accident. If you are not severely injured and are still on the scene, use your phone camera to take pictures of the area and the damage to your bicycle.
Finally, if you believe that your accident is the result of negligent or intentional misconduct on behalf of another rider, a pedestrian, or an automobile driver, you should contact a personal injury lawyer. A skilled attorney will be able to help you file a claim and navigate the legal system to exercise your rights.
WHY HIRE A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY FROM THE ZINDA LAW GROUP?
Our experienced personal injury attorneys at Zinda Law Group in New Mexico have the skills necessary to help guide you through the days and weeks following an accident involving your bike. Our personal injury attorneys have extensive experience working with bicycle accident victims and can help you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to. If we cannot win your case, you will not pay any fees. That is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
If you have been involved in a bicycle-related accident and are unsure of what to do next, call us today at (800) 863-5312 for a free and confidential consultation with one of our New Mexico personal injury lawyers.
Meetings with attorneys are by appointment only.