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Safety tips all bicycle commuters should follow

If you live and/or work in or around the Boston area, you know there are bicyclists everywhere. As a bicycle commuter, you're well aware of the benefits, such as the ability to avoid traffic jams and the opportunity to save money on gas, while doing your part to save the environment.

Conversely, you're also familiar with the many risks of commuting on your bicycle. This is especially true in the winter when bikepaths may be snowy or icey, thereby increasing the chances of suffering an accident. 

While there is no surefire way to avoid an accident with a motor vehicle, here are some tips you can follow to enhance your safety:

  • Make eye contact with drivers: If a driver doesn't see you, there's a greater chance of an accident. Do your best to make eye contact with all drivers in close proximity. For example, if you're crossing the street at a crosswalk, glance at the drivers who have stopped for you.
  • Watch for opening doors: It's not just moving cars that pose a safety risk. After someone parks, it won't be long before they (and their passengers) open their door. If they neglect to check their mirror, you could soon find yourself speeding toward an open car door. A direct collision has the potential to cause serious injury.
  • Ride in the bicycle lane, when available: There is no safer place to ride than the bicycle lane, as you shouldn't have to worry about motor vehicles and pedestrians. When a bicycle lane is unavailable, drive in traffic as opposed to on the sidewalk.
  • Wear the applicable safety gear: When commuting, you may have concerns about what you wear, as you need to look professional when you reach your place of employment. This is a natural concern, but it shouldn't stop you from wearing safety gear such as a helmet, gloves and the appropriate pants and shoes.

If you're struck by a motor vehicle on your bicycle, there's a good chance you'll suffer a serious injury.

Rather than attempt to leave the scene under your own power, move to a safe place and call 911 for help.

Your immediate treatment and recovery is your primary concern. But it's also important to learn more about the cause of the accident and your legal rights. You may be able to take steps to obtain compensation from the negligent driver.

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