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Biking at the Beach: How to Be Safe this Summer

By Renee Nordstrand on July 29, 2019

Few things are more enjoyable than renting a bicycle and taking it for a spin on one of Santa Barbara’s beautiful trails. From the relaxing coastal ride of Cabrillo Bike Path to the challenging twists of Old San Marcos Pass and Painted Cave Road with their gorgeous panoramic views, our “American Riviera” has something to offer the bicyclist at every level. Beachfront retailers make it easy to rent a bike while you’re here, whether you want to do some beach-cruising or mountain-biking!

As personal injury lawyers who live and work in this area, NordstrandBlack PC wants to offer some tips for having a safe summer ride:

  • Plan your route beforehand. There are many excellent resources to allow you to do this, from your phone’s GPS to local bicycling websites. We recommend you tackle trails that are at or below your skill level, just to be safe.
  • Wear a helmet. Under California Vehicle Code 21212, every rider under 18 must wear a helmet. If you are over 18, it is not a requirement; however, we recommend you do wear a helmet for safety’s sake. Wearing knee guards and elbow guards is also a good idea.
  • Check the bicycle to make sure all parts work, including the brakes. Defective parts can cause a serious wipeout, so make sure the bicycle you select works well. Many rental companies have you sign a liability waiver, so you may have limited options in the event of an injury. Even still, in the event of an accident it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney to see what legal action you can take.
  • Use the designated bike lane whenever possible. Santa Barbara is a bike-friendly city, and has many places for bicyclists to go! Keep to these trails and lanes, and avoid motor vehicle traffic if you can. On the road, use hand signals to let others know which way you are going, and double-check before crossing the street.
  • Follow all traffic laws (and know your bicycle laws). In the absence of a bike lane, bikes are treated just like other motor vehicles, and must follow rules of the road: staying to the right, moving with traffic, and obeying street signs and stoplights. In addition, bicyclists may not have two earphones in, but must always keep one ear open to traffic. In Santa Barbara and Goleta, bicyclists may not ride on the sidewalk unless entering/exiting a driveway.
  • Stay hydrated and don’t overheat. Because of our proximity to the ocean, Santa Barbara doesn’t tend to get as hot as Los Angeles, but bicycling is hard work. Take a break as often as you need to by pulling over to the curb or side of the path, out of the way of other cyclists. Carry water and drink continuously. If you feel faint or lightheaded, put the bike down and find some shade. Lie down if you need to. If people offer help, accept it.
  • Don’t ride alone. Even if you follow all the rules and ride as cautiously as possible, other drivers can still break the rules and hit you. When this happens, you may be too injured to take the proper steps, like calling for an ambulance and taking pictures of the accident scene and damage to the bike and other involved vehicle, and gathering information from the other party. You should always ride with a partner and protect each other.

Who should you call after a bicycling accident? Certainly, you should report it to the bike rental company – they need to check the bicycle afterward and certify it’s safe for someone else to use. However, if there was something wrong with the bike to begin with, they may try to cover it up. Our advice? If you are seriously hurt in a collision, talk to a Santa Barbara bicycle accident attorney. NordstrandBlack PC can investigate the scene, talk to witnesses, and determine who’s truly to blame for what happened to you. It may be that there was a dangerous obstruction in the road, or a defective part on the rental bike. It may be that another driver cut you off, forcing you to lay down your bike.

Call (805) 962-2022 today to schedule a free consultation. We take no fees unless we win compensation for you!

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