Top Causes of Bicycle Accidents
May is National Bike Month, which means more cyclists will be on the road. Cycling can be a great way to promote fitness and reduce the environmental impact of motor vehicles. However, it is important to take precautions, both as a cyclist and as the driver of a car where bicyclists frequent. To help you stay safe, we’ve rounded up the top causes of bicycle accidents and how to avoid them.
Types of Cycling Accidents
1. Collisions with a Motor Vehicle
One of the most common causes of cycling accidents involves a collision with a motor vehicle. This may be due to either the driver or the cyclist’s negligence. Some reasons why a car might hit a cyclist include:
- Distracted driving (texting, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio)
- Driving while intoxicated
- Driving at night without lights
- Following too closely
- Driver fatigue
- Failure to yield
- Running a red light or stop sign
The best way for a driver of an automobile to avoid a collision with a cyclist is to follow traffic regulations to the letter and remain vigilant, especially in areas where there are a lot of cyclists.
Avoiding Collisions with Automobiles as a Cyclist
On the other hand, a cyclist may also contribute to a collision with a motor vehicle if he or she failed to follow state traffic laws, was distracted, intoxicated, or otherwise failed to operate the bike in a safe and legal manner.
As a cyclist, you can take precautions to avoid collisions with motor vehicles while on the road. The number one way to stay safe is to familiarize yourself with your state’s traffic laws concerning cyclists.
Colorado, for example, treats bicycles in nearly the same way as a motor vehicle. The only exception is that cyclists are permitted to text and use a cell phone while on their bikes. Otherwise, you are expected to follow all the same regulations as a car when on the road, including yielding to pedestrians, stopping at stop signs and red lights, and riding with the flow of traffic.
In addition to observing state traffic laws, you can further avoid collisions with a motor vehicle by biking at a time of day when there is less traffic, but still adequate visibility. If you must bike at night, utilize the required front white light and wear reflective clothing. Even if your state does not require it, wear a helmet. They have been proven to reduce head and brain injuries by up to 85 percent.
2. Collisions with Other Cyclists
It is not uncommon for bicyclists to crash into one another, especially in an area with high bike traffic. Summer trails, for example, can become hazardous when too many cyclists are trying to navigate through each other and pedestrians. These collisions can be just as deadly, especially if the riders are going at high speeds and not wearing protective equipment.
Again, even if your state does not require it, wear a helmet. Although not wearing one will not affect your settlement* in the event you sue the other cyclist, a proper-fitting helmet could prevent more devastating injuries.
If you are riding in an area with a high volume of bicycle traffic, the following steps can help you prevent a collision with another cyclist:
- Avoid listening to music so you can hear other cyclists approaching.
- Ride on only designated pathways and stay on the appropriate side, except to pass.
- Clearly announce your intent to pass someone both verbally and with a bell signal, if applicable.
- Ride at times of day when there is less traffic.
- Slow down at corners or blind turns.
- Slow down to pass other cyclists and pedestrians.
*This applies only to cases in a state that does not legally require helmets. If your state does require the use of a helmet and you were not wearing one at the time of your accident, it may affect your settlement outcome.
3. Collisions with Pedestrians
A third type of cycling accident involves collisions with pedestrians. This most often occurs when cyclists are unaware of certain rules of the road regarding bicycles. For example, many local ordinances in Colorado forbid the use of bicycles on the sidewalk.
When in doubt, consider yourself in the same category as a motor vehicle where pedestrians are concerned. Follow the same safety precautions you would on trails as well, including announcing when you intend to pass and slowing down appreciably to do so.
4. Falls on a Bike
Sometimes, there is no other vehicle or pedestrian involved in a bicycle accident. In these cases, a cyclist may simply be inexperienced and fall due to mishandling their bike. In other cases, it may be a case of poor visibility or hazardous weather conditions.
In some cases, however, it may still be due indirectly to the negligence of another. For example, hazardous public road conditions that are known but not addressed are the responsibility of the city. The same is true of poor or missing signage and broken traffic signals.
Colorado Bicycle Accident Attorney
Whatever the cause, if you have been involved in a cycling accident in Colorado, contact Dave Roth with the Roth Group. Bicycle accidents can be complicated, with more than one liable party and serious injuries. You will want a skilled lawyer to help you build your case so you can focus on your loved ones and recovering. If you or someone you know has had a bicycle accident, call or go online today to schedule your free consultation.