Bike Safety Matters II

In our last Bike Safety Matters article, we discussed the Helmet Law, Vulnerable User Law, and the Safe Passing Law. In this article we would like to go over more bicycle safety equipment and other measures that all riders should take to ensure a safe and enjoyable bike ride.

According to the Oregon Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Facts, 618 bicyclists were killed and 52,000 were injured in 2010 in bicycle accidents. This accounted for 2% of all traffic fatalities and injuries. Approximately 53% of the bicyclist-related fatalities occurs between 4:00pm and midnight. This is most likely due to reduced visibility during those hours. Wearing fluorescent or bright clothing, using retro-reflective tapes and markings on the bicycle and helmet, and equipping front and rear flashing or reflectors will increase visibility. In fact, ORS 815.280 outlines the lighting guidelines for bicycle riders in the state. Oregon law requires bicycles to be equipped with proper lighting during low visibility conditions. The front light must be white and visible from at least 500 feet. The rear light must be red and visible up to 600 feet. Failure to follow mandated lighting requirements could will result in a Class D traffic violation.

ORS 815.280 also outlines requirements for brakes. The brakes must be in good condition that allows the bicyclist to stop within 15 feet when riding at a speed of 10 mph. To ensure all equipment is in good condition and working properly, do a quick Six Point Bike Safety Check prior to riding:

1) Tires should be properly inflated and the tread in good condition.

2) Wheels should be securely fastened and spin freely.

3) The flashing lights should be working. Carry spare batteries if possible. The reflectors should be securely fastened.

4) Brakes should grip the rim firmly and evenly.

5) The seat should be parallel to the frame and the handle bars should be perpendicular to the front wheel. Both should be tightened.

6) The bike should fit you comfortably. You should have 1-2 inches clearance when standing on the ground.

A more detailed Bicycle Safety Inspection may be needed periodically. Your bicycle should have a tune up at least once a year or every 1000 miles.

There are many resources and programs for bike riders that support bike safety. The federal government has established the National Safe Routes to School Program to encourage children who walk or bike to school to choose the safest routes. There are other websites that provide many excellence educational resources on the topic of bike safety for all ages, such as the Maryland Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Education Curriculum: K-5 and the Portland Kids on the Move and Smart Moves Safety Curriculum.

The Bicycle Countermeasure Selection System (BIKESAFE) provides resources and tools to improve the safety of bicyclists. The resources section provides general information regarding bicycling safety and mobility, such as bicycle crash statistics and analysis. The tools section provides countermeasures to be implemented in communities to improve bike safety, such as making intersections safer for bicyclists.

For parents concerned about their child's safety when biking in the neighborhood, this Bikeability Checklist can help you determine how bike-friendly your neighborhood is. It also helps you pinpoint the problem areas along with suggestions to how to deal with the problems.

As much as we would like to prevent accidents and injuries, sometimes accidents do occur. Having a Medical Information Carrier System (MICS) in your helmet can save your life. A MICS consists of a small round white sticker with a red insignia. It is applied to the outside of the helmet and contains a small medical information sheet with a double-side taped plastic carrier. The sticker prompts emergency and law enforcement personnel to look inside the helmet for the medical information sheet.

If you have other questions about bike safety or you have been involved in a bicycle accident involving another motorist our Portland personal injury attorneys at Angel Law, P.C. can help. We are an injury litigation firm in downtown Portland Oregon representing those injured by the carelessness or recklessness of others.