Using a bicycle as a form of transportation has become increasingly popular among the young and aging populations alike. Whether they’re heading out for a grocery run, commuting to work, or just taking a joyride, people chose to ride their bikes as a healthy alternative to motorized forms of transportation. Of course, bicycles are an environmentally friendly option for getting from one place to another, and they also help decrease congestion and traffic on our roadways.
The benefits of choosing a bicycle over a motor vehicle are simply undeniable, and cycling may be a key component to resolving some persistently problematic traffic issues, especially in urban areas.
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 800 bicyclists died in road bicycle accidents in one recent year. However, an accident need not be fatal to have a devastating impact on a victim’s life.
Bicycle accidents can be particularly problematic due to the lack of protection a bike provides to its riders. Bicycle accidents happen for a variety of reasons, including unpredictable natural events, and negligent driver behaviors on the roadways. Read on to learn more about bicycle accident safety tips from our experienced New York bicycle injury attorneys today.
Basic Safety Tips for Cyclists
- Avoid high-risk areas like traffic intersections.
- When possible, avoid traveling alongside motor vehicles.
- Avoid turning lanes and large trucks’ blind spots.
- Always wear a helmet that meets relevant safety regulations.
- Use hand signals when applicable.
- When riding with others, ride single-file and in the same direction of the flow of traffic.
- Opt for bright clothing and use reflective materials when cycling at night.
- Headlights, bells, horns, and other bike accessories can improve safety and visibility.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Left-hook accidents account for nearly 25 percent of bicycle crashes—that’s a quarter of all bike accidents! Left-hook road bicycle accidents occur when vehicles make a left turn and fail to yield to cyclists riding in the oncoming traffic lane.
- To prevent left-hook accidents, bicyclists can install rearview mirrors to improve visibility (rearview mirrors can be mounted to a bike or a helmet).
Bicycles Crossing In Front of Vehicles’ Paths
When bicycles cross in front of cars, it quickly creates very dangerous circumstances on the roadway. When you’re on a road bike, take every precaution possible to avoid crossing in front of cars. Always allow extra time to wait for vehicles to clear the roadway before riding across lanes of oncoming traffic to ensure your safety.
Right-hooks Cause Some Bicycle Accidents, Too
- Right-hook accidents occur when vehicles and bicyclists travel in the same direction and a car turns right, colliding with the biker riding alongside their vehicle.
Recent statistics suggest that almost half of all road bicycle accidents occur when bikes and cars are traveling in the same direction. If you’re a bicyclist, you should be aware of drivers who may try to turn right, even when you’re biking directly beside their vehicle.
Bicycle Accidents Are Also Caused by Unsafe Road Conditions
Many bicycle accidents do occur because of people—whether their driving behavior is aggressive, negligent, or reckless. Put simply, there are several ways that drivers may put others they share the roadways with at risk.
However, other bicycle accidents occur at no fault of other drivers. Road bicycle accidents are frequently caused by unsafe road conditions, poor traffic signage, and other uncontrollable factors. If your accident involved unsafe road conditions, you may benefit from finding a bicycle accident lawyer who specialized in premises liability cases.
When poor road conditions cause an accident, the law
- can hold government entities responsible for injuries that
Bike Lane Crashes
To promote the safety of cyclists who share the road with motor vehicle drivers, many cities and neighborhoods have implemented bike lanes alongside the streets. Most urban areas require cyclists to ride in designated bike lanes, and cyclists who fail to do so may be subject to traffic citations.
Bike lanes help make our roads safer for both bicyclists and car occupants alike. Bike lanes help bikers maintain focus, which can help them avoid becoming distracted, leading to their failure to see a nearby vehicle. Designated bike lanes also help protect cyclists from the dangers associated with congested and highly trafficked streets.
Even though the law requires cyclists to use designated bike lanes and the majority of bike lanes are clearly marked, bikers still suffer injuries in accidents that occur in bike lanes. Both moving and parked vehicles can pose a risk to cyclists in the bike lane.
Dooring accidents, in particular, are accidents that commonly occur within bike lanes.
- It is illegal for individuals or objects to block or obstruct a bike lane.
Injuries After Bicycle Accidents
What are the common injuries resulting from a bicycle accident?
How are people injured in bicycle accidents?
Of course, bicycle accidents occur for a variety of reasons and result in a wide range of injuries. It is impossible to predict how someone might be injured when they are involved in a bicycle accident. An individual may suffer only “minor” injuries in a bicycle accident, such as lacerations and bruising. Another individual who experiences a similar accident may sustain a broken bone or a soft tissue injury in their back.
Some common bicycle accident injuries include:
- Contusions, lacerations, or bruises
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head and neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Muscle pulls
- Muscle strains
Visit Your Doctor After a Road Bicycle Accident
To diagnose any injuries you may have sustained during a bicycle accident, you must seek an evaluation by a medical professional. In some cases, accident victims may suffer life-threatening injuries that require immediate emergency medical attention. In other cases, accident victims may be transported to the hospital to receive a more thorough assessment than first responders could provide at the scene.
After an evaluation, your attending physician will determine whether you need to remain in the hospital for additional procedures and observation or whether you are clear to return home.
If you did not obtain a medical evaluation immediately following your road bicycle accident, you should follow up with your primary care physician as soon as you are able. Because your physician is familiar with your health and medical history, he or she can more readily determine whether the accident impacted your health.
Visit Your Doctor Even if You Received Treatment at the Hospital or the Accident Scene.
Even if you received medical attention at the scene of the accident or in the hospital, you should still make an appointment to be evaluated by your primary care physician.
A follow-up appointment serves two purposes:
- Your doctor will be kept aware of your general health and wellbeing; it helps them provide you with better care now and in the future.
- Your physician can examine you for delayed signs of injury or other issues that may have been overlooked.
Dooring Bicycle Accidents Are Common
Dooring accidents occur when an occupant of a vehicle swings its door open, obstructing the path on an oncoming cyclist. Doorings are not typically considered serious accidents; however, cyclists may attempt to avoid the door, causing them to collide with other roadside objects.
When operating a motor vehicle on roadways shared with pedestrians and bicyclists, you must do your part to ensure everyone’s safety.
Simply looking over your shoulder to clear your blind spot before opening your vehicle door is an easy way to prevent dooring accidents.
- Parked cars have an invisible space around them called “the door zone”.
- The door zone is a two- to four-foot space adjacent to a parked and stopped car.
- Bicyclists who cycle in door zones can face injury or death from a dooring accident.
According to New York City traffic law:
- No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic, until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic. A person shall not leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Road Bicycle Accidents
How can I prove that the person who caused my bicycle accident is liable?
Typically, several factors may determine whether another’s actions deem them liable for a road bicycle accident. A qualified bike accident lawyer can help accident victims gather the appropriate evidence to show another was at fault for the accident.
Some evidence that may help in demonstrating liability includes:
- A police report that details what occurred during the accident. You can file a police report at the scene of the accident when law enforcement arrives or, if the police didn’t respond to the accident, you can file a police report online.
- Documentary evidence from the scene of the accident, including pictures and videos of the entire scene and surrounding area, the damage to your bicycle and your injuries, and the other vehicle.
Who can be held liable in a bicycle accident?
Multiple parties may potentially be liable for contributing to causing a road bicycle accident. For example, road cyclists are commonly injured by fellow cyclists or pedestrians. Other liable parties may include motor vehicle drivers, transit companies, government agencies, and bike manufacturers.
Are bicycle accidents preventable?
Of course, there are precautions that all cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers can take to decrease the prevalence of bicycle accidents. However, even for the most cautious citizens, some accidents are unavoidable.
Below are some tips to help prevent bicycle accidents:
- Ride in the direction of traffic: When motorists enter and exit roadways, they typically expect the traffic traveling on the respective sides of the road to be moving in the same direction. Always ride in the direction of the flow of traffic to ensure you are noticed by drivers turning to enter or exit the roadway.
- Avoid distractions (both cyclists and vehicle drivers): The world is full of distractions and in modern times, people are more on-the-go than ever. Distractions include anything that takes an individual’s eyes from the road, hands from wheel/handlebars, or mind from driving/cycling. Avoid distracting behaviors like wearing headphones or using your cell phone while riding a bike or driving a car.
- Use front and rear lights: Both cyclists and vehicle owners should make sure that they have fully functioning and visible front and rear lights. Bikes equipped with adequate lights dramatically increase their visibility to drivers, especially at dark.
I was injured in a road bicycle accident, but my injuries aren’t serious. What should I do?
We can’t stress this enough: even if you think your injuries aren’t serious, you must seek a medical evaluation. People frequently underestimate a “sore” knee, neck, or back only to find out later that they have a serious injury on their hands.
To prevent later potentially worsening your injuries or developing complications later, follow up with your primary care physician following an accident.
Recoverable Damages After a Road Bicycle Accident
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a road bicycle accident, you may be entitled to seek compensation for the damages you incurred as a result of the accident. After investigating a claim, an experienced bicycle accident attorney can help injured victims determine the value of their claim, and which type of damages they may be eligible to pursue.
Injured accident victims commonly seek compensation for:
- Medical bills resulting from injuries directly caused by the accident (including projected medical expenses).
- Lost wages or earning capacity when a bicycle accident prevents victims from working for a period of time or from ever returning to work in the same capacity as before the accident.
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Mental anguish
- Disgorgement or disability
If You Were Hurt in a Road Bicycle Accident, a Bicycle Accident Lawyer May Help
Skilled road bicycle accident attorneys regularly fight for the rights of injured victims to seek the compensation they are entitled to. Working with a bicycle accident attorney is one of the best steps you can take to protect your legal rights after a bike accident.
A personal injury lawyer can help injured victims to understand their options and identify potentially liable parties. When appropriate, an attorney may conduct a thorough investigation of how the accident occurred and collect evidence to demonstrate liability.
In some cases, attorneys can also utilize experts from various industries, for example, bike manufacturers, to help strengthen clients’ claims. An attorney can speak and engage in negotia1tions with insurance companies on a victim’s behalf to ensure settlement offers are fair and adequate.
Anybody who was injured in a road bicycle accident deserves guidance and compassion. Take advantage of a free consultation with a bike accident attorney today.