It is no secret that bike culture is huge in Portland. The city has the highest rate of residents who choose to bike to work, with 7.2% of its population opting for the eco-friendly alternative on two wheels. If you live close enough to your job, biking can be a great way to sneak in exercise before you are stuck in a chair for 8+ hours on end. But while biking can be beneficial to the environment and your health, it’s still a risky activity to pursue on busy city streets. If you’re already comfortable on a bike, or are thinking about transitioning to a bike commute, we have a few safety tips you should keep in mind to avoid incidents with motor vehicles on Portland roads.
It’s natural to be nervous the first few times you find yourself in the bike lane on one of Portland’s most congested streets, but you should conceal fear at all costs. When you ride with confidence and stand your ground, drivers and cyclists alike will be able to predict your actions and treat you with respect. If you are shaky and swerving, people will do all they can to get around you, including other cyclists. This can easily lead to a crash between two or more cyclists, or you and a car. Also, be sure to take over your lane when absolutely necessary, such as when there is no room for a driver to pass.
Always Be Seen
Visibility is a top concern for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike in our traditionally gloomy weather conditions. For a cyclist sharing a busy downtown road with cars, vans, and trucks, it’s extra-important to be visible at all times. As a cyclist, you can achieve this by wearing bright and reflective clothing, and by obeying Oregon’s bicycle lighting law. You can also place reflective tape or bike decals on your bike, backpack, or clothing. If you’re not too worried about style, you can even strap on a mesh safety vest. This is especially useful if you’re riding at night.
Stay in View
As part of always being seen, you want to make sure that you can see the rearview mirrors of the cars immediately around you. If you can’t see them, the drivers can’t see you!
Expect Doors to Swing Wide Open
It’s unfortunate that one of the more common threats cyclists face is when the door of a parked car flies in the face of an oncoming cyclist. While drivers can also learn to be more considerate of cyclists when parking, you can avoid getting “doored” by leaving as much distance as possible between yourself and parked cars. If you are mindful about dooring, you will pick up the habit of glancing at the cars to see if there is anybody inside that may be on their way out.
Make Eye Contact
Even if you have the right of way to cross a street or make a turn, you should always make eye contact with the driver of the car most capable of hitting you if you proceed. By making eye contact, you can be 100% positive that the driver sees you. If they hit you anyway and you get hurt, you may have a case.
Riding bike is a risky activity in an ever-growing city like Portland, particularly in the downtown area. Despite attempts to make the city more bike-friendly, drivers keep finding new ways to be distracted behind the wheel, and the feud between cyclists and drivers of motor vehicles continue, with people on both sides feeling more entitled to use the road. To avoid injury, always obey the rules of the road and follow the above tips. When an accident occurs, you can count on a Portland bicycle accident attorney to handle your injury claim. Call RizkLaw at (503) 245-5677 for a free legal consultation.