San Francisco is a great place to ride a bicycle, and in our vibrant community riding is more than just a form of exercise or an inexpensive way to get to work; it is a way of life. San Francisco has numerous scenic bike routes and dedicated bicycle trails throughout the city, making it perfect for experienced bikers and novices alike. While the city has gone to great lengths to provide for bicyclists and to help ensure their safety, unfortunately bicycle accidents still happen and cause serious, potentially life threatening injuries. Whether you are racing through the Wiggle, the one mile stretch of zig zagging roads that intersects the city, or riding over the Golden Gate, it is important to be aware of both the potential dangers as well as some bicycle safety precautions to ensure your ride safe.
The Facts About Bicycle Accidents
According to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), close to 500,000 bicyclists were injured as the result of bicycling accidents in 2013, and roughly 900 cyclists died as the result of their injuries. Children and young adults are at the greatest risks for being involved in bicycling accidents, and over 50 percent of all bicycle accidents involve people under the age of 29. While bicycling is an excellent form of exercise as well as recreation, riders are unprotected from potentially serious injuries that can result from bicycle crashes and collisions. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, common bicycle injuries include:
- ‘Road burn’ and lacerations;
- Muscle and tendon sprains and strains;
- Bone fractures;
- Facial wounds and injuries;
- Abdominal injuries, such as fractured ribs and internal injuries; and
- Head injuries, such as skull fractures and concussions, as well as traumatic brain injuries.
One of the most serious dangers facing cyclists is interactions with other automobiles and their drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that over 48,000 bicyclists were injured in 2013 as the result of automobile-related bike accidents, and close to 800 bicyclists were killed in these accidents. California has one of the highest rates in the nation for bicycling accidents and fatalities and, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, more than 100 bicyclists are killed each year in the state, while hundreds of thousands more are injured. The DMV advises all bicyclists that they are obligated to follow all bicycle laws as outlined under the California Vehicle Code, and to follow these bicycle safety tips to help ensure their safety and prevent accidents and injuries:
- Always maintain control of your bike;
- Protect yourself by wearing a helmet;
- Be alert when riding, increase your visibility by using headlights and wearing bright colors;
- Use hand signals to indicate your intentions to drivers; and
- Always ride with rather than against traffic.
In addition to the above, always make sure you ride sober, and be aware that even over the counter or prescription drugs can have a serious impact on your cycling ability. To read more about California laws and regulations regarding cyclists, check out the California Driver Handbook.