Bicycling is one of the most popular forms of transportation and exercise. Unfortunately, bicyclists are at a real risk of injury when sharing the road with motor vehicles. Accordingly, safety precautions must be taken, particularly as summer approaches and the number of bicyclists on the road rises. Sometimes accidents can still occur, regardless of safety measures taken. Involved in a collision and need legal aid? Keches Law Group’s skilled and experienced bicycle accident lawyers can help today.
Why Sharing the Road is Crucial
Bicycling has become an increasingly popular transportation method and fitness activity. The number of bicyclists on the road has increased dramatically in recent years. To illustrate, in 2019, there were approximately 48.88 million bicyclists six years or older in the United States.
Under Massachusetts law, individuals riding bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as individuals driving motor vehicles. For instance, bicyclists “shall have the right to use all public ways in the commonwealth except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted, and shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth,” with few exceptions.
Sadly, for bicyclists, sharing the road with motor vehicles can have deadly impacts. According to the CDC, in 2019, nearly 329,000 bicyclists sustained injuries. Worse, of these 329,000 injuries, 1,089 were fatal. 712 of these deaths involved motor vehicles.
If you’re one of these thousands of injured bicyclists, contact a Keches Law Group bicycle accident lawyer today.
Preventing Bicycle Accidents: What Bicyclists Can Do
- Wear a helmet – In Massachusetts, individuals 16 and under must wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. However, wearing a helmet is a good idea for bicyclists of all ages. According to the National Safety Council, helmets reduce the risk of head injury by greater than 50%. The protective benefit of helmets is even more significant when it comes to severe head injuries.
- Choose bright and or reflective clothing – Sometimes, drivers have difficulty seeing bicyclists. Driving at night and poor weather conditions affect visibility. For this reason, bicyclists should choose neon, fluorescent, or reflective clothing and accessories.
- Check your bicycle – Before taking off for a ride, bicyclists should inspect their bicycle and make sure all parts are working properly. Check for flat tires and adjust and lock your seat correctly.
- Stay focused and obey traffic laws – Bicyclists must understand traffic laws, use hand signals, and pay attention to hazards. Hazards can include opening car doors, potholes, and debris.
- Avoid distractions – Just like distracted driving, distracted bicycling can lead to serious accidents. While on the road, bicyclists should refrain from making phone calls, sending text messages, or listening to loud music. Due to their size in comparison to motor vehicles, bicyclists are already at great risk of injury. Therefore, they must keep their eyes, ears, and minds focused on their route and surroundings.
Protecting Bicyclists: How Drivers Can Help
- Look out for bicyclists – Typically, when a bicycle and motor vehicle collide, it is the bicyclist who will be harmed. Thus, it is vital for drivers to be careful, especially during warmer months when bicycles are more likely to be on the road.
- Give bicyclists plenty of room when passing – Massachusetts does not specify a minimum passing distance. Still, state law provides, “If it is not possible to overtake a bicycle or other vehicle at a safe distance in the same lane, the overtaking vehicle shall use all or part of an adjacent lane if it is safe to do so or wait for a safe opportunity to overtake.”
- Follow traffic laws – By following traffic regulations, drivers can reduce the likelihood of collision with a bicyclist. It is important to note bicyclists do not have to use the sidewalk. In fact, many areas outlaw riding on the sidewalk. In Massachusetts, “bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks outside business districts when necessary in the interest of safety, unless otherwise directed by local ordinance.”
- Check your surroundings before opening car doors – Opening car doors can drastically injure passing bicyclists. Drivers should implement the “far hand reach” or “Dutch reach” when opening car doors to prevent injury. This technique asks drivers to open their door using their hand furthest away. This movement forces individuals to check side mirrors and over their left shoulder for oncoming bicyclists.
- Expect the unexpected – Bicyclists can make unexpected maneuvers. Children, in particular, have a habit of riding unpredictably. Hence, drivers should reduce their speed when young bicyclists approach and be extra cautious in areas commonly populated by children, such as schools, parks, and playgrounds.
Were You Involved in a Bicycle Accident? Keches Law Group can help.
Often, no matter how careful we are while sharing the road, accidents can still happen.
Involved in a collision? Keches Law Group’s bicycle accident lawyers are ready to assist you.