Cycling has become an important part of Portland’s city culture.  Enthusiasts typically take precautionary measures to suit up with the right gear and educate themselves to imminent dangers on our roads.  As cycling’s popularity increases for some and as it becomes a practical necessity for others in their daily commutes, it may be helpful for beginner’s to understand some of the basics on how to properly ride on our streets. With that in mind, here are three ideas that will not only help you know what’s appropriate, but more importantly help you avoid dangerous or even fatal accidents. GO WITH THE FLOW, JOE Some beginning riders may feel they are safer from being struck from behind if they ride on the left side of the road, however going against the flow of traffic is much more dangerous. Going with the flow of traffic (with few exceptions) is the safest way for cyclists to ride on our city streets. Studies show you are 5 times more likely to be in an accident if you ignore traffic flow and go your own route (ie. against the flow of traffic). STAY OFF THE SIDEWALKS, SUE When you first start out cycling it may be intimidating to jump out into traffic and you may think taking the sidewalks is your best bet. It’s not. Most sidewalks were designed specifically for pedestrians.  Hazards abound on sidewalks with cracked concrete, obstructions along the way, and inattentive pedestrians.  You may not get a citation for riding on the sidewalk, but you may very well lose your leverage for legal claim should an accident occur. OBEY TRAFFIC RULES, JULES Now that you’re going with the flow of traffic, simply obey traffic rules. Even though you’re operating a “slow-moving vehicle” you are still subject to the traffic laws that govern city streets.  Just as you would in your car, stop at stop signs and red lights, and give turn signals when appropriate.  It’s the safest way to ride. In many accidents drivers will immediately try to blame the cyclist for “causing” the accident.  If you’ve been in such an accident, don’t let the driver, the insurance companies, or the driver’s attorneys intimidate you. In many (if not most) cases, it is the driver who is legally at fault. Don’t make any recorded statements and don’t hesitate to enlist the advocacy of an attorney who is a cycling activist. Schedule a free consultation with Mark Ginsberg, our personal injury attorney with extensive experience leading our bicycle collision cases. Contact us right away at 503-233-6507 or by e-mail.