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How do I stay safe while riding my bicycle on the road?

As a bike rider, you have just as much right to the Wisconsin road as a person driving an automobile. However, you are also at greater risk of injury if you get into an vehicular accident for the simple reason that are you more exposed than someone inside a car or a truck. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration explores challenges bike riders face while riding on the road and suggests solutions to increase safety.

First, while riding, stay with the flow of traffic. Do not be tempted to reverse direction and ride toward oncoming traffic just because you think you can avoid the cars. Also remember that street signs are for you as well as automobiles. Obey stop signs, yield signs, no u-turns, no left turns, any sign that you would follow if you were behind the wheel of a car. Also follow traffic signals and markings on the road. If the road turns right, turn with it.

Because of your smaller profile, there is a greater chance that a motorist, even a highly alert one, might not see you for an instant. That instant can be the difference between life and death. So, as you ride, do not assume that an approaching motorist sees you. Give the vehicle a greater berth while passing. At the same time, be aware of road hazards. A pothole might not cause a vehicle to crash, but your bike’s wheel could catch in it and send you flying off your vehicle. Look for anything, such as children’s toys, rocks and sewer grates that your bicycle could hit and make you veer off and crash.

Also, like any motorist, you should not indulge in activities that can distract you from riding your vehicle. Do not text on your phone, as it not only takes away your attention, but with a hand or two on your phone, you are not gripping the handle bars with both hands and you may lose control of your bicycle. You might also decide to listen to music through earbuds, but this can dull or block the sounds of traffic around you. You want your senses devoted to navigating the street around you without diverting your attention to other pursuits.

The information in this article is intended to educate readers on bicycle riding and safety, and should not be taken as legal advice.  

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