Bicyclists Have Rights, Too

Bicyclists Riding in a Delware Bike LaneHealth and environmental concerns have led many Americans to ditch their car, truck, or SUV in favor of a bicycle for their daily commute. In fact, over the last 15 years, there has been a more than 60 percent increase in the number of people who commute to and from school or work on their bicycle, according to a 2014 report from the United States Census Bureau. Not surprisingly, the increase in the number of bicyclists on the road has also corresponded to a dramatic uptick in accident-related injuries and fatalities. Like motorcyclists, bicyclists are at a disadvantage when sharing the road with other motorists. The lack of a protective “exoskeleton” means that, when a bicyclist is involved in a motor vehicle accident, their injuries tend to be severe, long-lasting and even fatal. Learning about the most common causes of car accidents, sound safety tips, and what rights bicyclists have when involved in an accident can help you and your family stay safer on the road—whether you're behind a pair of bicycle handlebars or the wheel of a vehicle.

Notable Bicycle Accident Statistics

Though some people may consider riding a bike “child's play,” bicycle accident injury and fatality statistics are certainly no laughing matter. For example:

  • There were 817 bicyclists killed—and more than 50,000 injured—in motor vehicle crashes in 2015, according to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS HLDI) analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
  • Bicyclist deaths increased by 13 percent from 2014 to 2015—marking the highest increase since 1995—according to the IIHS HLDI analysis.
  • 88 percent of fatal bicycle accident victims were age 20 or older.
  • Deaths of bicyclists age 20 and older have more than tripled since 1975.

Although the League of American Bicyclists ranked Delaware as one of the nation's most bike-friendly states, the state still isn't immune from the tragedy of bicycle accident-related injuries and fatalities. According to Delaware's Annual Traffic Statistical Report for 2015, 127 bicyclists were injured—and three lost their lives—in motor vehicle crashes in 2015.

Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

Like many types of “accidents,” bicycle accidents can often be avoided when bicyclists and motorists alike take care to follow all applicable traffic laws, so that all can share the road safely. Common causes of bicycle accidents include:

  • Intersection collisions. The most common cause of bike crashes, intersection collisions can occur when a driver fails to yield or turns through an intersection as the bicyclist approaches.
  • Door accidents. Drivers who park on the side of the road and don't look before exiting their vehicle can hit and injure passing bicyclists.
  • Sidewalk, parking lot and driveway accidents. When bicycles or vehicles emerge from these spaces, they can be difficult to spot.
  • Lane crowding. Vehicles occasionally drift in and out of their lanes just slightly—this can be incredibly dangerous for bicyclists who are riding too close to the flow of traffic.

Safety Tips for Bicyclists

Employing smart safety tips can help bicyclists avoid many accidents and injuries. Take these safety tips for a spin:

  • Stay visible. Wear bright-colored clothing, utilize reflective bike lighting and try to stay out of vehicle "blind spots."
  • Manage your speed. While there is no speed limit for bicycles, bicyclists can reduce their risk of accident and injury by ensuring that they only ride as fast as is appropriate for current weather and traffic conditions.
  • Ride in appropriate spaces. If there's a bike lane, use it!
  • Obey the rules of the road. Knowing applicable traffic laws—and how they apply to bicyclists—can help both bicyclists and motorists stay safe.
  • Ditch distractions. Listening to music or talking on a Bluetooth device can make it difficult to stay alert and spot potential traffic problems.
  • Wear a helmet. In most fatal bicycle accidents, the most serious injuries were to the head. Wearing a bicycle helmet can decrease the risk of injury by up to 50 percent.

Were You Involved in a Bicycle Accident?

If you or someone you love were seriously injured in a bicycle accident, the talented legal team with the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you explore your legal rights. You may be eligible to seek compensation for your injuries. Contact the Morris James Personal Injury Group today to schedule your free initial consultation.