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Spring kicks off the cycling season; drivers, take heed

With the end of winter precipitation and the warmer, sunnier weather of the spring comes the impulse to get back out on your bike and hit the streets. You probably realize that your biking skills are going to be a little rusty, even if you were hitting the stationary bike throughout the winter.

However, once you've spent a few minutes regaining your balance and re-familiarizing yourself with the controls on your bike, you will no doubt be maneuvering around as expertly as you were last summer.

While you may immediately readjust to the flow of cycling, it's important to remember that the rest of the people in traffic may take a bit longer to adjust. That means you could be at increased risk for a crash caused by a driver.

People in passenger vehicles often don't look for cyclists

Although the Georgia traffic laws are very clear that cyclists have the right to share most roadways with enclosed, motorized vehicles, the people in those cars, trucks and SUVs often seem to forget that they aren't the only ones on the road.

Aggressive driving or just failing to adequately surveil the area could easily spell disaster for a cyclist. You are at risk for a driver failing to notice you during any season, but in the early spring, when they haven't seen bikes on the road for months, the risk may be higher than later in the season when people have remembered that they need to check for bicyclists.

A few safety tips for early spring rides

As a cycling enthusiast, you also realize that you should do a basic maintenance check on your bike after its storage through the winter to make sure it doesn't have any issues that would make cycling unsafe. When you know your bike is road safe, you might want the plan a short, local trip for your first excursion this spring.

Making sure your bike is in good condition and that you are physically capable of resuming your daily commute on your bike or completing the path you plan will be important for your safety and enjoyment. Being proactive and watching for dangerous drivers nearby can help keep you safe, but nothing can really offset the increased danger you experience when a driver is negligent in their obligation to monitor their surroundings.

Cyclists who get hit by drivers who claimed to have not seen them may have the right to seek compensation from those drivers for any medical costs and property damage they suffer as a result. Although avoiding the incident is the ideal solution, holding negligent drivers accountable can help you make the best of a bad situation if a crash does occur.

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