Cycling offers so many benefits. It’s great exercise, lots of fun, and an environmentally friendly option for commuting. Unfortunately, cyclists are vulnerable to serious injury. Motor vehicle collisions are the biggest threat to cyclist safety—causing concussions, bone fractures, https://www.littlejohnbarristers.com/legal-services/injury-lawyer/bone-fracture-injury-claims and even fatalities in the worst cases—but there are other risks to be aware of. Here are tips to prevent common personal injuries when cycling this spring, along with information on what you need to know if you are hurt by a vehicle while cycling.
Spring Cycling Safety Tips
Bike safety awareness is the key to avoiding injuries caused by overuse, strains, falls, and collisions. If your bike has been in storage over the winter, now is a great time to consider these cycling safety tips to prevent common cycling injuries.
1. Bike Maintenance and Equipment Check: Ensuring a Safe Ride
After the long winter, it’s tempting to jump on your bike and go! Before you hit the road, make sure you fully inspect your bike, your helmet, and any other cycling equipment. Clean and lubricate your bike. Ensure that tires are inflated, the seat and handlebar are properly adjusted, and all bolts are tightened. Check your bicycle’s brakes pads and brake levers. Make any repairs that are needed or take your bike to a trusted repair shop.
2. Weather and Visibility Considerations: Adapting to Spring Conditions
Spring weather can be unpredictable. Temperatures can soar in the afternoon and then drop to near freezing overnight. Rain and thunderstorms can move in quickly. The days are becoming longer, but the sun still sets relatively early. These changing conditions can lead to personal injury if you aren’t prepared.
Check the weather forecast before heading out on your bike so you head out with proper attire based on the expected temperature. Prepare yourself with wet weather gear if rain is predicted. Wear bright colours, use lights, and install strips of reflective tape to your bike, helmet, and bike gear to make sure you are visible to other road users.
3. Road Hazards and Poor Surface Conditions: Navigating Safely
Road conditions are particularly hazardous for cyclists in the spring. Potholes that formed over the winter months have yet to be fixed. They can lead to flat tires and falls. The shoulder of the road where you want to ride is often covered in debris (salt, sand, rocks, etc.) left over from the winter roads, making your tires slip and your brakes less effective. The best tip to avoid these road hazards is to look where you want to go when bike riding, rather than looking down or focussing on the things you want to avoid. This allows you to spot hazards in advance so you can plan a safe path or weave/adjust if needed.
4. Overexertion and Fatigue: Listening to Your Body
Riding within your limits will help you avoid injury. Ideally, you should do some conditioning exercises leading up to cycling season. When it’s time to ride, take shorter trips the first few times out in the spring to give your body the chance to get reaccustomed to cycling. Strained muscles can develop into overuse injuries if ignored (e.g., cyclist’s knee, persistent lower back pain). If you fall or crash, take the time to rest and heal before jumping back on your bike.
Remember that you’re more vulnerable to injury when you’re tired. Your attention level drops, putting you at risk of colliding with a pedestrian, motor vehicle, or other cyclist. Take shorter rides or breaks on longer rides to ensure you are refreshed and alert.
5. Traffic Awareness and Safe Interactions: Sharing the Road
Both motorists and cyclists need to remain alert and share the road. However, this time of year, drivers are less used to checking for cyclists when opening doors, turning, and changing lanes. Collision with a motor vehicle is responsible for 73% of all cycling deaths in Canada each year. Bicycle/car crash victims often sustain serious injuries like concussion, spinal cord injury, or a bone fracture. Bicycle lawyers in Barrie at Littlejohn Barrister can help you build a strong case to ensure the negligent driver is liable for the accident if you are injured in such a collision.
Top tips for safely sharing the road include obeying all traffic signs, using appropriate hand signals, and keeping a constant lookout for other road users. You should always ride on the right-hand side of the road going in the same direction as traffic, as this makes you more visible to drivers.
What You Need to Know If You’re Hurt While Cycling
Here are three important things to know if you are injured while cycling:
An injured cyclist is entitled to no-fault accident benefits regardless of who caused the crash and regardless of whether they have vehicle insurance. A cyclist who has an Ontario automobile insurance policy or who is a listed driver on someone’s policy can claim accident benefits through that policy. A cyclist who has no coverage is entitled to claim accident benefits from the policy of the owner of the vehicle that was involved in the collision.
In Ontario, an injured cyclist can also bring a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident. Many cyclists mistakenly believe they’re only allowed to bring an accident benefits claim because “no-fault” means they can’t bring a lawsuit. Not true.
Ontario law has been designed to protect a cyclist struck by a motor vehicle. The usual rule in a personal injury lawsuit is that the plaintiff must prove the accident was caused by the defendant. When it comes to a cyclist injured in a motor vehicle accident, the situation is different. The Highway Traffic Act puts the burden on the driver to prove that the cyclist’s injuries were not caused by the driver’s negligence. This is known as a “reverse onus.”
Are You a Cyclist with Serious Injury Such as Concussion or Bone Fracture?
Lawyers in Barrie at Littlejohn Barristers are here to help if you have been injured while cycling. We will examine all the facts of your case, including the impact on your life and on your dependents, and advise you of your options for obtaining personal injury compensation. Littlejohn Barristers has bicycle accident lawyers serving clients in Collingwood, Orillia, Midland and Barrie. Call us at 705-725-7355 to schedule your free initial consultation.