Although the numbers look low, cyclists have a higher risk of injury and death than drivers do. In 2013, crashes resulted in more than 900 fatalities and about 494,000 visits to the emergency department, according to the CDC. The deaths and injuries in 2010 cost $10 billion over a lifetime in medical bills and productivity loss. Furthermore, most bicycle accidents do not get reported, so the statistics are likely higher. Nevertheless, the health and environmental benefits of riding a bike outweigh the risks. By knowing the bicycle safety laws of Kentucky, you can greatly reduce the risk of getting hit and injured.

Safety gear

You are not required to wear a helmet in Kentucky, but doing so may prevent serious head injuries. The law does require that you use a bell, horn or your voice to warn others cyclists or pedestrians of your approach. Your bicycle must have lights, reflectors, a seat and working brakes to increase your visibility to others and your ability to avoid danger.

Road safety

Because the law views you as a vehicle, you have to follow the same traffic laws as motor vehicles, such as obeying traffic lights and signs and riding on the right side of the road or in a bike lane with the flow of traffic. Instead of using turn signals, you use hand signals but still ride through the proper turn lanes. Always check for vehicles before turning.

You can ride on the shoulder of the road and change your position in a lane to avoid a hazard or collision or to pass a vehicle. When riding on the sidewalk, you must slow down and follow the same rules that pedestrians do. However, sidewalk riding is usually best only for children.

Other safety tips

There are further safety standards you should keep to prevent getting in an accident with a motor vehicle. They include the following:

  • Do not ride at night in the dark.
  • Do not ride when you are intoxicated.
  • Avoid distractions, including audio ones, so you stay alert.
  • Keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.
  • Watch for vehicles turning right ahead of you.
  • Look out for doors of parked cars opening and for vehicles pulling into traffic from parking spaces, driveways and alleys.
When you know and adhere to Kentucky bicycle safety regulations, you increase your chances of having an injury-free ride to your destination. However, in the event of an accident, you should call a personal injury attorney for legal assistance.