There are more cyclists on the road now than ever before. In fact, the number of regular riders grew from 43 million in 2014 to 47.5 million in 2017. More cyclists on the road, however, mean more accidents involving bicycles. That said, as more municipalities create safety measures for cyclists, the number of accidents is declining. There were only 45,000 reported bicycle accidents in 2015, a sharp decline from the previous year’s 50,000 accidents. During the same period of time the number of fatal accidents rose by more than 12 percent.
How Many Bicycle Fatalities Occur Each Year?
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data show the number of cycling fatalities each year spiked from 621 in 2010 to a high of 857 in 2018. That’s an increase of more than 38 percent. What’s more, pedestrians and cyclists made up 12.6 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2003. By 2017, that percentage climbed to 18.2 percent.
What Accounts for the Upward Trend in Fatal Bike Accidents?
- Cycling is growing in popularity, meaning more inexperienced cyclists are on the road.
- Drivers are not looking out for cyclists and do not share the road properly.
- Municipalities are not implementing bicycle safety measures and infrastructure quickly enough.
Fortunately, there are steps that bicyclists can take to reduce their risk of being seriously hurt in accidents. These include wearing helmets, following the rules of the road, and avoiding high-risk areas.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?
Driver and cyclist education is vital to lowering the number of cycling accidents and fatalities. That’s why it’s essential to understand what causes most bicycle accidents. Some of the more common causes of bicycle accidents are discussed below.
Drivers Not Paying Attention to Cyclists
Drivers are increasingly more distracted at the wheel and, consequently, do not notice cyclists as consistently as they should. NHTSA data shows that 30 percent of all bicyclist injuries result from being struck by a car. Driver distraction is the most common reason that a vehicle collides with a bicycle.
Dangerous Road Conditions
The roads and surfaces on which cyclists ride are not always safe. Local municipalities have a duty to ensure their roads and bike lanes are maintained and safe for all who travel on them, whether by car, bike, or foot. However, 13 percent of all cycling accidents resulting in injuries are due to unsafe road conditions, often due to the negligence of public entities responsible for maintaining the streets.
Drivers Failing to Consider Bicycles as Vehicles
NHTSA reminds motor vehicle operators that any bike ridden by a cyclist who is at least ten years old is considered a vehicle on the road. As such, they must adhere to the same rules and regulations as car drivers. Motor vehicle operators must afford bicycles the same space and right-of-way considerations as they do cars and trucks. More than 20 states have passed a “three-foot rule” that instructs drivers to allow at least three feet of space between their vehicle and a bicycle on the road. Not only do cyclists appreciate the extra space, everyone is safer because of it.
What You Should Do After a Bicycle Accident
If you are a cyclist involved in a bicycle accident, you need to consider your health above all else. Get checked out by your doctor immediately and actively participate in any treatments your doctor recommends. In addition, make sure to attend all follow-up appointments and keep any records you receive.
As soon as you can, create a detailed statement of your experience in the accident while the details are still fresh in your mind. This statement will be a useful reference for your insurance company and any legal counsel you may secure. Moving forward, keep a journal detailing your recovery and how your injuries affect you every day.
If you regularly use social media, you should consider stopping while your accident case is pending. Insurance companies regularly investigate the claims they receive and may monitor your social media accounts for any posts that suggest your injuries are not as serious as you claim. For example, something as seemingly innocent as a picture of yourself out to dinner with friends in the months after your accident could be used as evidence to justify a lower settlement offer. For this reason, abstaining from social media is typically the safest course of action after an accident.
Should You Hire a Bicycle Accident Attorney?
Yes—always seek the counsel of a qualified bicycle accident attorney after an injury-causing crash. Injuries from bicycle accidents are often severe, meaning you may need expensive medical treatment. You may lose work and significant income as a result of your injuries. In fact, in some cases, bicycle accident victims never return to the work they did before their crash.
While you are dealing with these and other potential losses, the insurance company’s adjuster will focus on resolving your claim for as little money as possible. The insurer may agree to pay your medical bills arising from an accident, while refusing to cover additional damages, such as loss of income or pain and suffering.
Fortunately, a bicycle accident attorney will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Experienced bike accident lawyers know how insurance companies operate and almost all injury lawyers offer a free initial consultation where you can ask questions about your rights and what compensation you may receive for damages. A bicycle accident attorney’s services should come with no out of pocket cost to you, and the lawyer only receives payment if you are awarded compensation through a settlement or verdict.