If you’ve been thinking about commuting to work by bike, let me give you some thoughts based on my decades-long experience as a cyclist—in both urban and rural settings—and on what we’ve seen and heard from our clients here at Jim Dodson Law.
Commuting by bike is becoming more and more feasible these days, and so many people are transitioning to commuting by bike. Given the rising price of gasoline and the overall environmental impact created by most motorized vehicles, I think it’s a wonderful alternative. The advent of the e-bike has the potential to become a total game-changer. If you are considering traveling to work on a bicycle on a Class 3 e-bike, for instance, you can travel up to 28 miles per hour. That would be a very convenient and fiscally responsible thing to do on the right road and in the right environment where you can properly use that speed. On our website you can find a helpful e-bike buyer’s guide to assist you to understand what to look for in shopping for an electric bicycle.
But there are certain things you need to think about because people who commute by bike are typically going a longer distance. Many times they will be on a road that has higher traffic volume than they might experience on an interior road. Not all of these streets and roads will have bike lanes. So there are some safety concerns to keep in mind when you’re trying to determine if it’s feasible to ride a bike from home to work and back. You’ll need to ask questions like: What’s the distance? How long will it take? How hot will I be when I arrive (especially in Florida)? And how safe is it?
General Safety Tips on Commuting
When thinking carefully about your urban route, bear in mind that, just like a road cyclist, visibility is one of the most important things to consider. I’m an advocate of wearing bright neon colors. Statistically yellow-green is even more prominent than basic yellow. Wear something that sets you apart from your surroundings and the visual clutter drivers are dealing with. If a driver can’t easily see you, he or she is not going to make that split-second safety maneuver swerve, turn, or stop—whatever it takes to avoid hitting you.
I’d also look at your auto insurance and make sure you have uninsured motorist on the policy. If you own a car, that uninsured motorist protection on your auto policy will cover you in the unlikely event you were ever in a collision with a vehicle of any type. We have information on our website about this topic that we’ll be happy to send to you on request.
Bike Positioning in Traffic
Spending a good deal of time five days a week in traffic will necessitate being informed about how and where you ride. Cycling Savvy in Orlando has a superb website with loads of helpful information about positioning in the bike lane, traveling, and commuting safely because it’s written by folks who actually cycle to work themselves. The site has safety tips on speed, intersections, turning, and when and where to stop. Avail yourself of the wise advice and experience of seasoned commuters.
Choice of Route
When considering the best way to get to work and back home again, always cycle, if you have the opportunity, on the road with the least number of cars.
Class-3 e-bikes can go 28 mph. It’s good to understand how higher speed affects your interaction with passing motorists. It sounds too simple to even mention, but always be aware of your speed in traffic with other vehicles. One of the most common examples is if a car passes a cyclist and then intends to make a right turn, the car driver may turn without realizing how quickly the bike is approaching from behind. Speed also is a concern with drivers pulling out of parking lots, side streets, and driveways, unaware of the speed of a cyclist who may be closing in on them more quickly than they expect.
Ride in a protected bike lane (with barriers) or regular (painted) bike lane if it’s at all feasible. Speed, visibility, signaling, and safety rules all apply in bike lanes as well.
What to Do If You’re Involved in an Accident
Here are some general guidelines in the event of a bike collision:
- Take your time getting up and moving around
- Assess yourself for physical injuries
- Observe any damage to your helmet (concussion is a danger)
- If you notice any loss of awareness or consciousness, seek immediate medical attention
- If able, always call the police and get an accident report
- Check the condition of your bike
- If you have a cell phone with a camera, take pictures of the accident scene
- Obtain identity and contact information of the driver and any witnesses
- Contact your insurance company
- Document what happened and any injuries you have sustained
- Contact an experienced Florida bicycle injury attorney
As the Florida Bike Guy, I’m always happy to share what I’ve learned personally and through my interaction with clients about the multiple factors involved in safe cycling. In any type of setting, whether it’s for pleasure, exercise, or commuting, taking precautions can preclude disaster and serious injury. If you or someone you know has been hurt in a car or bicycle crash, please call our office. We’ll do all we can to help.