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Bike helmets are important safety gear...usually

Many people who ride bicycles know that having the proper safety equipment is critical. What they may not realize is that the gear they count on to keep them safe could actually cause them to be at risk of drivers coming very close to them as they ride.

In a study done by a psychological scientist at the University of Bath, it was found that some drivers will try to overtake a bicyclist from as little as 18 inches away even if the cyclist had on highly visible safety gear. A previous study by that same scientist found that some drivers equate experience with wearing a helmet, so these drivers will drive closer to riders who are wearing a helmet.

Unfortunately, both of these studies highlight just how clueless drivers can be when it comes to what it takes to remain safe on a bicycle. Drivers who don't provide bicyclists with the appropriate space on the roadways put the cyclist at risk of harm.

Does this mean riders should skip the safety gear?

Even though wearing safety gear might make some drivers think that the rider is experienced and can handle the bicycle in more complex situations, such as close proximity overtaking, the riders should still wear all of his or her gear. If there is a crash due to negligence of the driver, the helmet can still protect the rider's head.

One important point for bicyclists to remember is they aren't invincible just because they are wearing their safety gear. Some bicyclists equate wearing a helmet with being able to take more risks than they would without it. They might not consciously think about this, but anyone who is riding a bicycle, especially around traffic, needs to ensure that they are doing so as safely as possible.

Some bicyclists will still be struck by drivers, even if they're riding safely. Those individuals will likely need considerable medical care and might have to take time off work to heal. They may opt to pursue a claim for compensation to help them recover the financial damages that they suffer due to the driver's negligence.

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