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How Experienced Bicyclists Avoid Crashes and Minimize Injuries

Although riding a bicycle presents risks for both seasoned and beginner bicyclists, cyclists who have logged in more miles on roads and trails are more likely to be able to anticipate potential crash hazards and avoid them.

Even when unable to avoid a crash, experienced cyclists are often able to minimize their injuries.

Here are some tricks that experienced cyclists use to keep themselves safe while taking a spin:

Ride loose: Beginning cyclists have a habit of riding with tense and clenched muscles. As a result, their reactions are slower and their movements are often exaggerated.

There are a few steps that novice cyclists can take to make sure that they are relaxed while riding. First, make sure that your bicycle is properly adjusted. A bicycle shop can help you get the correct fit. Riders who are comfortable on their bicycles tend to be more relaxed. Practice, practice, practice. The more miles that you ride, the more comfortable and relaxed you’ll be.

If you’re out for a ride and find yourself tensing up, sit up out of the saddle, squeeze your shoulders upward, hold for a few seconds and release. Roll your neck and shake out your arms to keep loose.

Keep your focus: When you’re riding, it’s easy to lose concentration or become distracted. Cyclists who are not paying attention or who find themselves daydreaming in the saddle are at risk of injury from a number of hazards, including motor vehicles (moving and parked), road hazards, pedestrians and even other cyclists.

Cyclists should stay alert, keep their eyes on the road ahead and look out for all potential hazards. Never ride with headphones. Be especially vigilant if riding conditions or visibility is poor. Try not to ride when you’re tired. Use your peripheral vison to watch what’s happening at your sides.

Don’t panic if you hit something or if something strikes you. Keep control of your bicycle by braking smoothly and keeping your bicycle in a straight line to the best of your ability. Cyclists who go over the handlebars when emergency breaking can suffer fractures dental injuries, fractures, or head injuries. Keep your weight back to help stabilize the bicycle when braking. Practice emergency breaking so that you can get a feel for how hard you can break without going over.

Be careful while taking corners: Corners can be tricky to navigate, especially when they are sharp or the road surface is slick. Cyclists should keep their heads up and look as far through the turn as possible. Find a focal point and concentrate on that spot. If the road is wet, do not brake while you are riding through the corner. Instead, stop pedaling as soon as you spot the corner and feather your brakes while you are travelling in a straight line to reduce your speed.

Avoid road hazards: Potholes, debris in the middle of the road and other roadway defects pose hazards to novice and expert cyclists alike. Scan ahead for dark spots on the road. These are likely to be potholes or patches to the hot top. If you spot a pothole or other road hazard, do not hit your front brake too hard. If you do, you might find yourself flying over the handlebars of your bicycle.

If the pothole is small and it is not possible for you to swerve around it, your best strategy is to relax your grip on the handlebars, lift your weight out of the saddle and allow the bicycle to ride over the pothole. The key is to stay relaxed and let your arms and legs absorb the impact. If the pothole is deeper, a seasoned bicyclist clipped into the pedals might try to “bunny hop” over it by pulling up on the handlebars and pedals. This is a move that requires practice and should not be attempted by novice cyclists.

Do not overlap with other cyclists: If you are riding in a group, never allow your front wheel to overlap with the rear wheel of the rider in front of you. By allowing your wheel to overlap, you place yourself at risk of bumping tires. This can be disastrous to you, the other cyclist and any cyclists behind you. Always keep a safe distance from the cyclist in front of you and ride to the right or left of that cyclist.

If you do bump tires, do not slam on your brakes. Stop pedaling, feather your rear brake and try not to swerve.

The Best Way to Fall After a Bicycle Crash or Collision

Even the most skilled cyclist takes a tumble every once in a while.

An experienced cyclist knows there is a right way and a wrong way to fall off of a bicycle. By learning to fall the right way, you can minimize your injuries when involved in a crash or collision.

Here are some basic tips for preventing injuries in the event of a bicycle crash:

  • Do not brace for a fall by sticking out your hand. This is a recipe for a broken arm, wrist or shoulder. Instead, keep your hands on the handlebars or close to your body. Try to roll with the impact instead of bracing against it and allow a large portion of your body to absorb the impact. The goal is to spread the force of the impact across a large surface to minimize the extent and severity of your injuries. This strategy is effective for crashes that send a cyclist flying over the handlebars.
  • If you find that your wheels are sliding out from under you and you are falling to the side, try to turn the front of your body away from the road and absorb the blow with the back of your body.
  • Regardless of the specifics of a crash, always tuck your chin into your chest to protect the back of your head. If your head or helmet touches the ground, get yourself checked out for a concussion.
  • Prior to impact, let your body go limp. If you tense up, you are more likely to break a bone.
  • If possible, pick a soft landing place like a grassy shoulder to prevent serious injuries such as head and neck injuries, traumatic brain injuries and broken bones.
  • Move out of the roadway whenever possible following a crash to avoid a secondary impact.
  • Get yourself checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible. Follow your doctor’s orders.
  • Get your bicycle checked out, too. A bicycle repair shop will check for cracks and other structural damage and make sure that your bicycle is safe for the road.

Whether you are new to cycling or a seasoned pro, the Boston bicycle attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman are ready to help you with your injury claim.

For a free legal consultation, contact The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC today at (617) 777-7777 or by using our electronic form. There are no fees until we recover money for you.

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