Bicycle riding is a healthy alternative to driving a car and can be convenient for many people in the city. Every year, millions of people ride their bicycles on roads that are shared with automobiles. It is also a great way to save on gas expenses. However, the bicycle accident attorneys at the Heslin Law Firm are aware of the inherent dangers of riding a bike in the city when you’re surrounded by vehicles. The downside of bicycle riding is the risk of severe injury in a bicycle accident. Every year, about 580,000 people are involved in a bike accident, and most who are injured do not wear helmets. Thus, a large percentage of bike accident victims suffer severe head injuries, and 70% of all fatal bicycle accidents are from those injuries.
Wearing a helmet can be the single most important step cyclists can take to ensure they do not get severely injured in an accident. In Pennsylvania, the law prohibits a person under 12 years of age from riding a bike without wearing a helmet. Nighttime bicycle accidents are common, as well. Using a lamp is required by law between sunset and sunrise. Red reflectors on the back of the bike are also required.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2015, there were nearly 467,000 bicycle-related injuries in the U.S., and more than 1,000 bicyclists died. Additionally, Philadelphia is ranked the ninth most dangerous city in the country for bicyclists. Here are the most common causes of bicycle accidents:
- The bicyclist doesn’t yield to the car
- The bicyclist doesn’t yield to another bike
- The vehicle turns into the bicyclist
- The bicyclist is riding on the wrong side of the sidewalk
Stay Safe on Your Bike
One of the most important tips we can provide is to use a headlight if you’re biking at night. Not only is it required by law, but it’s nearly impossible for cars to see a bicycle rider after dark. Getting an LED light is recommended, as it’s very bright and lasts a long time.
Another important tip is to not ride against traffic. If you’re riding the wrong way and a driver makes a right turn from a side street or driveway, it’s very likely he won't see you because he was only looking for traffic on his left. He had no reason to expect someone would be coming at them from the wrong way, and the bicycle accident will be your fault. Riding against traffic may seem like a good idea because you can see the cars coming toward you, but studies show that riding the wrong way is three times as dangerous as riding the right way, and for kids, the risk of a bicycle accident is seven times greater.
Avoid Busy Streets
A common mistake bicycle riders make is to take the same route they would take if they were driving. It’s a good idea to take a different route with slower-moving cars. Yes, cyclists have a right to the road, but changing routes is better than being involved in a bicycle accident. You may find you can get to most places by only crossing the busiest streets rather than actually traveling on them.
Don’t Wear Headphones!
This is just common sense. You need all of your attention focused on what you’re doing, and sometimes, more importantly, others. It’s more critical to hear what’s going on around you when you’re biking than when you’re driving. For more in-depth information, read The Pennsylvania Bicycle Riding Manual.
Know and Obey the Law
Recently, a new law went into effect in Pennsylvania which requires drivers to allow a 4-foot distance between their vehicle and the bicycle rider. Similar laws exist in other states, as well. But it’s also important for bicycle riders to respect the rules of the road and realize they’re at high risk for severe injuries in an accident.
If you or a loved one needs an experienced personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia due to a bicycle accident, call the Heslin Law Firm for a free consultation. For over thirty years, Gary Heslin has helped bicycle accident victims recover from their injuries and get the compensation they deserve. Complete our contact form, or call our office today!