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Ride a Bike in Tempe? Know the Rules of the Road

Bicycling is becoming increasingly popular in Tempe and all across the Valley of the Sun. If you ride in the area, are thinking about riding, or have kids who may ride on occasion, you may realize that there are a lot of benefits to hopping on a bicycle when you want to get somewhere. Bikes are cheap, efficient, and reliable means of transportation. Their maintenance costs are much lower than a typical passenger vehicle and you do not need a license to ride one. Traffic is less of a problem and parking is rarely challenging. In fact, thanks to the proliferation of bicycle racks in and around the city, cyclists can often park their bicycles closer to a building or establishment than even the best vehicular parking spot in the area.

But for all the positives, there continue to be some drawbacks to riding in Tempe. The biggest issue is that presented by bicycle collisions which typical involve a crash between a bicycle and a motorized vehicle like a car, truck, or bus. In some cases, these collisions are the fault of the cyclist but far too often, they are the result of an inattentive or unknowledgeable driver who ignores the cyclist’s rights.

If you are going to ride in Tempe or if someone you love will be using a bicycle, the best thing you can do is to familiarize yourself with the laws and your rights so that you can remain as safe as possible.

  • Ride on the Right: When you are riding a bicycle in a lane of traffic with other vehicles, ride just like you are a car. That means that you ride on the right and with the flow of traffic, stop at stop signs, and yield the right-of-way where appropriate. Never ride against traffic as doing so is both dangerous and a violation of local and state laws.
  • Gear Up: Safety gear is often overlooked by cyclists who want to hit the road, but doing so could be a major mistake. If you will ride, wear a properly fitting helmet designed for safe cycling and consider other apparel like a jacket or pants designed to withstand the friction that comes with road rash incidents.
  • Use a Light: Under Arizona law, you must have a white headlight and a rear reflector if you will be riding at night or during other dark times. It is also a good idea to make sure both of these items are in proper working condition as they will make you more visible to passing vehicles and therefore less likely to be involved in a crash.
  • Use Hand Signals: Others on the roadways are not able to read your minds. Just because you lean one way or move to the side of the street does not mean that all drivers will understand your intention to turn, continue straight, or stop. Rather, if you plan to turn, use hand signals to indicate it. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that cyclists should use their left arm in an extended position to signal a left turn or a 90 degree bend at the elbow with the lower arm pointed upward to signal a right turn. Some areas use an alternative right turn signal where cyclists use their right arm in an extended manner.
  • Ride Defensively: All drivers make mistakes at one point in time or another. If you plan to be on a bicycle, expect these errors in judgement and be prepared to react to them when necessary. This may mean swerving, changing course, skipping a planned turn or waiting to proceed even if you have the right-of-way.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to remain safe so that you can avoid a Tempe bicycle accident. However, if one happens to you, make sure you understand that you are protected by the laws of Arizona and that you may be entitled to seek financial compensation for your damages.

Prior Blog Entry:

Every Two Minutes, a Drunk Driving Car Accident Causes an Injury, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published May 13, 2016.


Bike Safety, City of Tempe AZ.

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