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Staying Safe as A Bicyclist on Montana Roadways

May 21, 2018

“National bike usage is up, as well as the number of bike-vehicle accidents. Here are safety tips for bicyclists, offered by the Montana Department of Transportation.”

Bike usage has increased 60% over the past decade, as many younger people are beginning to rely on bicycles as their primary means of transportation. Biking is an efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly mode of transportation. Just be sure to always use common sense, ride safely, and obey all traffic laws.

With the increase in bicycle, usage comes a likely increase in bicycle-motor vehicle collisions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 50,000 people are injured in bike-vehicle accidents every year (13,000 of those injured are children).

Vehicles, pedestrians, objects, and weather conditions all pose potential hazards for bicyclists. Riders must be constantly aware of road conditions and their surroundings because even a simple mistake can result in catastrophic collisions and serious injuries.

In Montana, bicycles, cars, and trucks are all considered “vehicles” and are treated similarly in a court of law. It’s clear, however, that bike-riders are far more vulnerable in the event of a bike-car or bike-truck accident. Not only are bicyclists less visible, but also more prone to serious, life-long injuries should they be involved in a collision.

How can bike users stay safe when sharing the road with larger vehicles in Montana? The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) shares a few points of advice for roadway bicyclists:

Bicycle Safety Tips:

  • Wear Your Gear: first and foremost, wear a helmet. Head injuries are among the most common bicycle-related injuries

  • Maintain Your Equipment: make sure you have working lights and reflectors. Bike visibility—especially during night hours—is a major contributor to bicycle-vehicle mishaps.

  • Be Aware of the Terrain: Look for loose gravel, sand, or other debris. Rainstorms can make roads slick and hazardous. Another example is railroad tracks, which should always be crossed at a right angle.

  • Follow the Rules of the Road: as a bicyclist, you’re just as obliged to obey traffic signs and signals as a truck or passenger car is. Ride on the correct side of the road, stop at stop signs, and give turn signals with hand motions. Remember, bicyclists are considered vehicles in Montana and should follow the same customs and rules.

  • Stay Attentive and Be Responsible: similar to driving a vehicle, keep your eyes on the road. Don’t text and bike and don’t drink alcohol and ride. Again, these are the same rules we hear for operating vehicles.

As a cyclist, heeding the MDT's advice should minimize your risk on Montana roadways. However, not all bike accidents are avoidable, especially those where the cyclist isn’t at fault. If you or someone you know has been injured in such an accident, reach out to legal counsel immediately to discuss the incident.

Because of the severity that is often associated with these types of accidents, affected cyclists may sustain incredible damages (medical bills, lost work time, pain & suffering, and property loss). An experienced personal injury attorney can help recover compensation that is rightfully owed in the event of a bicycle-vehicle collision.