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Even though New York is at a standstill with the current covid-19 pandemic, many who are now at home are finding ways to pass the time. In fact, the streets in Long Island neighborhoods have pedestrians, runners and bicyclists getting fresh air, six feet apart of course. While traffic and highways are virtually empty, the more local streets and neighborhoods still have cars driving around, likely running errands for their family. Suffolk County especially has more unpredictable roads, so there is still a threat of getting into an accident and potentially getting injured. Therefore, if you fall under the category of someone who is going out during the pandemic, here are some safety tips to avoid injury.

Practice Social Distancing

Do not forget or undermine the reasons we are all at home right now. We recently wrote a blog about why social distancing is so important, and the more we all do our part to cooperate, the sooner this will all be over. So if you are riding a bike, stay as far away from pedestrians as possible. Although six feet apart is the recommendation, don’t hesitate to increase that distance as much as possible. If you are riding a bike and you see someone walking their dog down the street, if it is safe to do so, maybe consider moving to the other side of the street so as to keep a safe distance. Avoid touching any surfaces and avoid touching your face.

Safety Tips if you are a Bicyclist

If you are riding your bike around the neighborhood, you must still be aware and drive defensively as you will still likely be sharing the road with other drivers. When riding a bike, make yourself as predictable as possible to drivers. Ride with the flow of traffic on the right side of the road and do not weave in and out of parked vehicles. Avoid wearing headphones as you do not want to lose your ability to hear other vehicles approaching. Always slow down and check for traffic when approaching an intersection.

If at all possible avoid busy commercial roads like Jericho Turnpike or Middle Country Rd as even now they can still be chaotic and not safe for bicyclists. Finally, when you are sharing the road with other motorists, assume that they do not know how to yield to a bicyclist. Even in situations where you have the right away, continue to drive defensively.

For Drivers

Just because there is less traffic does not mean you should not drive as defensively. In fact, with there being less traffic, there is no rush, and you can take the time to dive safely. It is still important to never use your cellphone while driving. Eliminate all distractions while you drive, so you do not get into a bicycle or pedestrian accident. Obey all traffic laws, and follow the speed limit. At parking lots and shopping centers, be extra careful as these are always the most unpredictable places to drive. Additionally, try to park as far away as possible from other cars, so as to practice social distancing.

If you are driving with a bicyclist, be extra careful if you need to pass them. Slow down at every crosswalk and bus stop, and drive slowly and carefully in residential areas, as pedestrians and bicyclists may be out and about and could unexpectedly cross the street.

We understand that at the time being, there is still a need for people to leave their homes. In addition to being cautious about the spread of the coronavirus, we also wish everyone practices defensive maneuvers in order to prevent injury.

About the Author

Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and slip and fall injuries.

His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.

For a full description of Long Island Biking Laws, click here

Many of us love to ride our bikes around Long Island. The environment, the beautiful weather, the scenic parks with paths laid out for the bikers of Long Island, the health benefits both mentally and physically – both kids and adults can enjoy it plenty. But Long Island can also be a dangerous place for bicyclists. Our roads are extremely congested and there are very few roads with dedicated bicycle lanes.  This can be a recipe for disaster.

Following these tips is of the utmost importance for your safety. Since you’re on a bike, offering much less protection than a car, and you need to share the road with the drivers of Long Island, we cannot overstate the importance of knowing and following these rules for your own safety and the safety of others on the road. After all, the laws that drivers must follow are the same as the laws that bicyclists must follow, plus more. As well as for anyone on skates, a skateboard, etc.

Click each tip to see how they can help keep you safe on the road.

While bicycle accidents are never expected, they do happen. Protective gear significantly reduces the risk of severe injuries. From an analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), 97% of fatalities in bicycle crashes included individuals not wearing a helmet. And it makes sense, since 74% of fatal crashes involve head injuries. Gloves and knee pads can protect you from fracturing or breaking bones if you’re ever in a crash, minor or significant. No matter what, drive with the flow of traffic, and always in the lane provided or the shoulder if wide enough. If you drive against the flow of traffic you can see others driving toward you, and this may feel safer for you. But remember that you have much less protection than the driver of the car. And drivers are usually not paying attention to drivers headed in the opposite way that they are. And if they do see you, you’re both headed toward each other at great speed. It’s deemed better to drive with the direction of traffic because drivers will have you in their site longer, which is considerably less dangerous since you have less protection. Bicyclists are governed by the same Vehicle and Traffic Laws as motor vehicle operators. For example, bicyclists must yield to right-of-way, stop if they’re at a stop sign, drive on the right hand side, etc.[vc_column_text]Bicycles are meant to be used by one individual at a time. Placing a passenger on the handlebars, seat or pegs significantly reduces your ability to attentively visualize traffic (or visualize it at all) and impairs your ability to effectively maneuver your bicycle in case of an emergency. Not every roadway is lit up enough for drivers to see you. Furthermore, some drivers might not even have their lights on if the road is lit up by streetlights and they don’t notice (or simply neglect to put them on). This type of gear can save your life. It shines and reflects light sources, sometimes multiple light sources. It helps drivers see you on dark roads. This really goes for anyone who is forced to only use one hand to steer their bike because of the package they carry. It might be easy to glide with one hand down an empty street, but if you’re forced to maneuver to avoid an accident, you’ll need both hands. So be safe, and always keep both hands on the handlebars. A package can obstruct your view as well, making for another dangerous scenario. There’s almost always roadwork happening on Long Island roads. Sometimes, debris can be left over (ie. a small chunk of curb that was left in the shoulder lane). Debris almost always end up on the side of the road, where bicyclists ride, which causes grave potential for accidents. Any obstruction, big or small, while driving at a low or high speed, can easily cause you to lose control of your bike. There are plenty of potential obstructions for both drivers and bicyclists to watch out for. Other drivers need to know if you are planning to make a turn, just like they need to know whether another driver is planning to make a turn or drive straight. The right-of-way law applies to both cars and bicyclists – bicyclists do not get privilege with these laws. And these hand signals are there way of telling other drivers/riders on the road what they plan to do, allowing them to follow right-of-way laws. If you fail to signal and cause an accident, and need compensation for a serious injury, you may be at a loss since you didn’t the follow right-of-way laws. Here’s how to correctly signal:

Firstly, always come to a stop or slow down as much as you can (without become an obstruction for anyone behind you) before making a turn. This will make it easier for you to use hand/arm signals, especially if you have a group of bicyclists behind you.

If you’re going to make a left-hand turn, make sure you’re in the correct turning lane, and extend your left hand out horizontally. As we said before, keeping both hands on your handlebars is paramount to your safety, which is why you should slow down or preferably come to a full stop before making your turn.

For a right-hand turn, make sure you’re in the turning lane/shoulder and extend your right arm horizontally.

If you are going to slow down, begin the process and extend your left arm downward with your hand out so anyone behind you can see that you plan to slow down. This can be a bit tricky since having both hands on your handlebar is important in case you are forced to quick maneuver to avoid an accident. When you use this hand signal, survey your surroundings, and make sure that there is no potential cause for an accident. It’s also advisable to perhaps make this signal several times, allowing you to place your left hand back on the handlebar between signals. Use your best judgement with this signal. To be safe on the road, you’ll need to be fully aware of your surroundings. It’s important you know if someone is honking at you. If you don’t hear them, and a potential accident is underway, you won’t know to safely maneuver and avoid the accident.

Whether you ride a bicycle for fun or for transportation, following these simple tips will make your bicycling experience safer and more enjoyable.  However, even the most conscientious bicyclist can be involved in an accident.  If you should be the victim of a bicycle accident you should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer that can protect your interests and obtain financial compensation should you be entitled to it.