Now that spring is here, you are probably itching to dust off your bike and go for a ride. Before you wheel your bicycle down the driveway, you should understand some of the hazards you face from other drivers sharing the road. Serious bicycle accidents are disturbingly common, especially in crowded urban areas like New York City.

When you are up against a larger vehicle, such as a car or pickup truck, you stand practically no chance with your bicycle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that bicyclists accounted for 2 percent of traffic fatalities and 2 percent of all collision-related injuries across the country in 2014. As you know, you may increase your safety by wearing a helmet, but protective gear does not guarantee you will escape injury in a crash. You may improve your chances of a safe bike ride by observing the following guidelines:

  • Ride your bicycle in the direction of traffic, not against it.
  • Always assume drivers are not watching out for cyclists or cannot see you. Bike defensively.
  • Be sure you have visible reflectors or lights on your bicycle and wear reflective clothing. Secure any loose clothing to keep it from getting caught in your wheels or chain.
  • Constantly watch for road hazards, including gravel, potholes, debris, pedestrians and cars turning out from driveways or side streets.
  • Know your route before you ride it.
  • Understand that drivers may have difficulty noticing a bicyclist sharing the road since they are smaller and not as common as motor vehicles.

As a cyclist, you understand the importance of being aware of your surroundings, following traffic rules and never letting your guard down when you share the road with motor vehicles. However, your preparation can only go so far. You cannot prevent every accident, especially when a nearby driver is being negligent or aggressive. If another driver injures you, you may be able to seek compensation.