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What can we do to make cycling safer?

Making the roads safe for cyclists is everyone's job. It's important to carefully consider the number of serious injuries and fatalities springing from cycling accidents every year. Most of these events could easily be avoided. People do not have to suffer from life-changing injuries or lose a loved one. And yet it continues to happen.

Rather than accepting that accidents are inevitable, what can we do to reduce the odds of a crash? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Educate drivers about specific risks

Many drivers do not understand some of the risks that cyclists face. For instance, "dooring" is a serious problem where people open their car doors into the bicycle lane. However, experts note that many driver's ed. courses don't even touch on this. Young drivers may honestly not know that they need to be extra careful around bike lanes until they cause a crash.

2. Put an end to distracted driving -- for real

Over the last few years, lawmakers and educators have taken steps to reduce distracted driving. Activities that were allowed a decade ago are often illegal. Awareness for the risks is higher than ever. Some phones even have built-in features to disable notifications while driving. Even so, distracted driving keeps causing accidents, and a cyclist who gets hit by one of these drivers has high odds of ending up in the hospital.

3. Create better road systems

Cars and bikes often don't mix, even when they're supposed to. Drivers and cyclists clash. They don't enjoy sharing the road. One potential change that could fix some of this is to make dedicated bike lanes and other changes to road systems to keep cyclists safe.

4. Stop the hostility

As noted above, some drivers tend to think of cyclists as adversaries. It's the wrong mentality. It leads to hostility between drivers and cyclists, when what they should really focus on is sharing the road. If people had the right mindset, they'd all work harder at safety.

5. Make riding more common

Experts often note that cycling is a solution to things like traffic congestion, pollution, the obesity epidemic and many other issues. If more people engage in the activity, looking at these positive changes, that will raise awareness. It will make cycling more normalized and expected. It will also mean that you'll have more crossover, with drivers who are also cyclists, and that can help mend fences between the two groups.

After the accident

These tips can make cycling safer, and hopefully we will trend that way in the future. However, accidents will still happen, and those who suffer injuries in Connecticut must know what legal rights they have.

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