Bicycling Safety and Accident Prevention
As more people head outdoors for recreation, transportation, and socially-distanced ways to connect with family and friends, retailers have seen a surge in bicycle sales. The demand for basic adult bicycles has pedaled up to double- and triple-digit sales growth in early 2020 and is expected to continue.
Before hitting the road solo or as part of a pack, review road rules and safety guidelines to prevent an accident. This article will provide a helpful overview of key guidelines, common types of bicycle accidents, special cycling rules and a summary of what to expect if an accident occurs. If you are in a bicycle accident, call an experienced bicycle injury lawyer like Lepley, Engelman, Yaw and Wilk, LLC, to obtain expert advice and representation.
Bicycle Accident Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were more than 850 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes in the US in 2018 – an increase of 6.3% over 2017. This is the highest fatality rate in nearly 30 years.
The majority of bicycle crashes occurred between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., in urban areas (75% of the time) and were more likely to involve males. Of the bicyclists killed in 2018, 61% were not wearing helmets and 20% had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit.
Safe Bicycling Guidelines
Under Pennsylvania law, bicycles or pedalcycles are considered vehicles and must obey all rules of the road. Bicyclists and motor vehicle drivers must share the road legally and exercise ordinary care for others and self on the roadway.
The two main types of bicycle accidents are falls and crashes. Falls cause the most injuries to cyclists and accidents with automobiles prove the most serious. These guidelines will help prevent both of types of these injuries.
First, wear a helmet. Helmets are not just for children. Both children and adults should wear helmets when riding a bicycle. Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by more than 50% and provide significant protection against severe head injuries.
Second, don brightly colored clothing and use reflective strips and front and rear lights, especially if riding at dawn, dusk or night-time.
Third, be vigilant and keep your distance from other vehicles or objects. While slower vehicles (including bicycles) are required to keep to the right on roadways, this does not require bicyclists to ride on the shoulder or the white fog line. Bicyclists may ride in the center of the rightmost lane when appropriate or to avoid hazards. Weaving between parked cars or other objects instead of holding to a straight line prevents drivers from seeing cyclists and could lead to a dangerous accident from a right-hook crash or dooring.
Common Types of Bicycle Accidents
Three common types of bicycle crashes are: right-hook crashes, dooring or overtaking crashes.
A right-hook crash occurs when a motorist attempts to pass in front of a bicyclist to make a right turn, but does not completely overtake the cyclist. As the motorist turns right, his or her vehicle cuts off the cyclist’s lane of travel potentially causing a collision – throwing the cyclist off and under the wheels of the automobile.
To prevent a right-hook crash, drivers should slow down behind the cyclist and make a right turn after the cyclist has passed. Additionally, drivers turning left must yield the right of way to cyclists proceeding straight through an intersection in the opposite direction.
Dooring happens when a driver or passenger of a stopped vehicle does not exercise due care and opens a door into an oncoming cyclist’s path.
Bicyclists should exercise caution and never assume cars will leave enough space or that stopped motorists will think before opening a door. When riding on a roadway with parked vehicles, cyclists should stay to the right side of the road, but not overly close to parked vehicles and never weaving between objects.
Overtaking crashes take place when a motorist fails to overtake a cyclist with due care and the motorist strikes the cyclist from behind.
A few ways to try to prevent an overtaking crash include riding a few feet off the curb or side of the road to provide more maneuverability, using a tail light all the time, and setting your tail light to blinking. The use of higher visibility clothing and lights can provide greater safety for cyclists.
Important Road Rules Regarding Cyclists
Bicyclists are provided with a number of special provisions and rules in addition to motor vehicle rules to ensure the safest road conditions for all vehicles. A few examples are below:
In Pennsylvania, drivers must allow at least four feet between their car and bicyclists when passing.
It is illegal to for motorists to force cyclists off the road. Forcing a cyclist off the road may result in criminal charges.
Cyclists should not ride more than two side by side, except on paths that are specifically designated for bicycles.
Every bicycle or pedalcycle, when used between sunset and sunrise, shall be equipped with a front headlamp, red rear reflector, and amber reflectors on the sides.
When a Bicycle Accident Occurs
Collisions between automobiles and bicyclists are considered vehicle accidents by insurance companies. This enables injured cyclists to collect damages to pay for medical bills, loss of compensation and other expenses incurred by the accident and following recovery.
The liability for bicycle accident injuries and medical bills is determined by a number of factors, such as insurance coverage and the nature of the accident. To seek compensation, the cause of the accident must be determined and the driver’s negligent conduct must be proven.
Bicycle accidents cause trauma in many ways. From pain and mobility constraints to medical and financial burdens to emotional and social impacts, the recovery from a bicycle accident and bicycle injury can be lengthy and expensive. We understand and are here to help.
Lepley, Engelman, Yaw & Wilk’s bicycle accident attorneys work diligently to ensure our clients have a strong case and receive the compensation their cases deserve. Calling our office as soon as possible following your bicycle injury will help to protect your legal rights and give us early access to investigate and build your case.
If you are in a bicycle accident, please call Lepley, Engelman, Yaw & Wilk, LLC at (800) 422–5396.