Bicycle trips account for only 1% of all trips in the United States. However, bicyclists face a higher risk of crash related injury and deaths than occupants in motor vehicles. 1
If you read our previous article, hopefully you’re feeling more knowledgeable on the dangers and complications inherent in riding a motorcycle and the necessity of an attorney with expertise to match those difficulties. To round out the “alternative modes of transportation” we decided to delve into bicycle accidents next. “Wow, it’s complicated” doesn’t even begin to sum up this field of law. Relatively new yet increasingly important, bike laws are frequently sidelined despite bicycles being adopted as inexpensive ways to travel and exercise.
We’d like to explicitly state bike laws are too complicated a topic for this short article – and that’s exactly why you need an experienced attorney when a bike accident happens. All 50 states consider a bicycle a motor vehicle for purposes of road usage. However, this isn’t 100% foolproof. Roads with bike lanes are different than ones without. Other times, it’s completely okay for bicycles to use the sidewalk. Confusing, when bikes are characterized as cars. Complicating things further, accidents don’t only occur between bicycles and motorists; collisions between bicyclists and pedestrians can and do happen.
Needless to say, bike laws are tricky to maneuver. If you agree experienced personal injury attorneys are needed for motorcycles, double down on that expectation with bicycle accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in 2017, there were 5,977 pedestrians and 783 bicyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes. While fatality statistics always make you pause, injuries are often overlooked despite their importance. The Centers for Disease Control Injury Center reported in 2010 an estimated $10 billion in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses for injuries on bicycles. The economic impact of bicycle accidents is incredible!
What can be done by those on the road, regardless of their mode of transit?
- Double-check before opening your door into a traffic lane or sidewalk. Motorists carry the duty of care to triple-check for oncoming traffic (this includes bicyclists) prior to open doors. Bicyclists should be hypervigilant while passing parked cars. “Dooring” is a leading cause of injury or death with urban bicyclists.
- Left turns and U-turns require bicyclists to move into traffic lanes. Motorists often overlook their bike neighbor and can sideswipe or broadside them. This carries over into crosswalks or parking lots where non-motor vehicles and pedestrians go unseen.
- Bicycles simply don’t move as fast as cars. Before a bicyclist can be passed, motorists must have three feet of safe passing distance. If there isn’t, motorists must slow down and wait. Motorists are easily frustrated by this, but it would do to remember patience can literally save a life. Similarly, bicyclists should keep to their bike lane, single-file if in multiples, and keep to the right as possible.
The risk of injury in bike accidents is financially and physically crippling. Combined with the very real biases associated with cyclists, you need someone dedicated and experienced to handle these nuanced cases. Contact a seasoned personal injury lawyer like those at The Zucker Law Firm to traverse complicated bike law and direct you or a loved one on how to proceed.