Providence Attorney Shares Tips to Keep Rhode Island Bicyclists Safe

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As riders take advantage of longer summer days for cycling, Providence lawyer Mark W. Gemma offers suggestions for keeping safe on Rhode Island roads.

There's nothing more fun than exploring the Ocean State on a bicycle

Summer offers more daylight hours for bicyclists to enjoy riding the state's roads and trails, but that increase in ridership corresponds with a rise in bicycle accidents, which can be fatal, cautions a Providence lawyer.

"There's nothing more fun than exploring the Ocean State on a bicycle," said Mark W. Gemma, an attorney with Gemma Law Associates, Inc. in Providence. "You see so much more riding a bike. But other drivers don't always see bicyclists, so be careful."

One bicyclist in Rhode Island died in a bicycle accident in 2007, the most recent year of complete data. The rider was among 698 cyclists killed nationwide in traffic crashes that year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Over 90 percent died in crashes with motor vehicles. Accidents were often the fault of the other motorist. The average age of those killed was 40.

Fatal accidents occurred more frequently in urban areas, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., and in the months of June and September, the NHTSA reported. An additional 44,000 cyclists were injured in traffic crashes.

Gemma noted that Rhode Island only requires helmets for riders age 15 and younger, although one in eight riders injured in a cycling accident suffers a brain injury.

"One of the most effective precautions any rider can take is to wear an approved helmet," Gemma said.

And Gemma noted it's not only dangerous, but against the law to wear earphones or headphones while riding by bicycle on any Rhode Island road. It makes it more difficult for riders to hear traffic approaching from behind, he said.

"Enjoy riding," Gemma said. "But remember that cyclists have the same privileges and duties for driving safely on roadways as other vehicles."

Other safety measures include:

  •     Obey Traffic Signs and Signals. Bicycles must obey all the Rules of the Road. Cyclists have the same privileges and duties as other vehicles.
  •     Use Hand Signals. Signal all turns and stops ahead of time.
  •     Establish eye contact with motorists to ensure that they know you are on the roadway.
  •     Be wary of parked cars, particularly if you see a motorist in the car. Motorists can unexpectedly open doors. Ride a door width away from parked vehicles.
  •     Check regularly over your shoulder and use a mirror to monitor traffic.
  •     Always use a strong white headlight and red tail light at night. A headlight and rear reflector are required for night riding.

About Gemma Law Associates, Inc.

Gemma Law Associates, Inc. is a highly regarded Providence, Rhode Island law firm that concentrates in personal injury law, including vehicle accidents involving bikes, motorcycles, cars and trucks. If you've suffered a serious personal injury because of another motorist's negligence, call Gemma Law Associates, Inc. at 401-467-2300 or contact the firm through its Web site at http://www.gemmalaw.com for a free case evaluation.

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