Bicycle Safety: Avoiding Trips to the ER

healthcare attorney By Edgar Snyder, Esq.

Bicycles are great – they’re a mode of transportation, and they provide hours of entertainment and exercise. However, because bikers of all ages share the road with other motorists, it’s crucial to understand the importance of bicycle safety and accident prevention.

Thousands of cyclists suffer injuries in accidents every year, and while it’s impossible to completely eliminate the risk of being in an crash, there are many things you can do to avoid a trip to the ER.

Top 5 Tips to Prevent Bicycle Accidents

1. Know the new Pennsylvania bicycle safety law. The new law, which took effect in April 2012, stipulates that drivers must allow at least four feet between their vehicle and a bicyclist when passing them. Cyclists must stay to the right side of the road when riding below the posted speed limit, unless the cyclist is making a left turn or riding on a one-way street.

Additionally, drivers attempting to turn left must yield to bicyclists traveling in the opposite direction, just as they would for another driver. If a road has only one travel lane, bicyclists may use any portion of the lane to avoid road hazards. Drivers can’t interfere with a bicyclist proceeding straight on a roadway when making a turn or force a bicyclist off the road. Violators may face criminal charges. For more information on Pennsylvania’s new bicycle safety law, visit

2. Use a properly fitted helmet…every time. Wearing a helmet is one of the most important things you can do to prevent traumatic brain injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), you can reduce the risk of a head injury by up to 85 percent when you wear a helmet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, head injuries account for 62 percent of bicycle-related deaths. Visit the NHTSA website for more information, including a brochure, on bicycle helmet safety.

3. Know the bicycle traffic hand signals. Because bicycles don’t have turn signals like cars and other vehicles, cyclists use traffic hand signals to communicate with drivers. When you plan on turning right, make an “L” shape with your left arm, or extend your right arm horizontally. When you plan on turning left, hold your left arm out horizontally. When you plan on slowing or stopping, hold your left arm downward.

4. Make yourself visible to other drivers, motorcyclists, and bikers. Equip your bike with a white headlight, red taillight and blinker, and front and rear reflectors. Wear fluorescent or reflective gear when riding at night, and make sure your helmet has reflective strips as well. Stay a few feet away from cars parked on the side of the road, as people exiting them may not see you and open the doors.

5. Ride defensively. Don’t trust other drivers to see you, so always be alert – ready to brake at any moment. Allow at least two seconds of space between other cars, motorcycles, or bicycles. Watch for potholes, rocks, and other dangerous road hazards. Avoid roads that have a lot of vehicle traffic as much as possible, and be predictable. Don’t swerve suddenly or cut in front of cars.

Bicycle Safety First and Foremost

Whether you ride to get around, exercise, or spend time outside, always keep bicycle safety your top priority. Thousands of people end up in the ER or doctor offices every year after suffering bicycle accident injuries. Wear a property fitted helmet, and know the details of the new Pennsylvania bicycle safety law. Visit this link for more bicycle safety tips.


Attorney Edgar Snyder, an avid cyclist, has served the residents of western Pennsylvania and its surrounding regions for over 45 years. His law firm, Edgar Snyder & Associates, has represented over 40,000 people, including clients who were injured in all types of accidents. For more information,

+ posts