Every September the Bicycle Transportation Alliance hosts the Bike Commute Challenge to encourage bike commuting. Biking to work is a healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to driving, but it is not always the safest. Portland, Oregon claims the largest percentage of bike commuters of any large U.S. city and is one of America’s most bike friendly cities.

Unfortunately, accidents do happen, and bicyclists are more vulnerable to serious injury than drivers. To protect yourself, choose a bike path before pedaling on a busy street. If there is no option except for the street, stay in the bike lane, and be visible. Wear bright reflective colors, even in the daytime. As the days get shorter, have at least two blinking lights in the rear and one light in the front. A flashing light in the front will distinguish you as a cyclist. Obey the rules of the road, and avoid passing cars on the right.

Another essential item for cyclists is adequate insurance in case they do get injured. Approximately 15% of the drivers on the road do not carry any insurance, and many drivers only carry the minimum in liability insurance ($25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident).

Review your auto insurance policy to confirm that you have insurance coverage if you are injured on your bicycle. If you do not have an automobile policy, consider purchasing bicycle insurance. Check www.betterworldclub.com and www.spokeinsurance.com, both of which recently started offering comprehensive, accident and liability bicycle insurance. Homeowners and renters insurance policies may ask you to specifically add your bike to your policy for it to be covered for theft or damage. All too often, a cyclist is unable to recover for his or her damages because there is no insurance coverage available.

If involved in a crash, be sure to do the following:

  1. Know the law and understand the fundamentals of insurance, medical services, and the legal system. It may be necessary to contact an attorney.
  2. Obtain complete and accurate information about the other person involved.
  3. Get written statements from eyewitnesses to provide details and identification.
  4. Seek medical treatment immediately if you have any injuries.

Preventing an accident is the best way to protect yourself, but having adequate insurance will protect you and your family in case of an accident.