There are more cyclists on the road now than ever before. In fact, the number of regular riders grew from 47.5 million in 2017 to more than 52.7 million in 2020, with no signs of the trend slowing down. More cyclists on the road, however, can mean more bicycle accidents.
That said, municipalities try to create safety measures for cyclists, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of bicycle accidents reported declined in 2020. Fatal accident reports went from 1,089 in 2019 to 675 in 2020. We are watching reports to see if the downward trend continued in 2021 and beyond.
How Many Cyclists Suffer Injuries Occur Each Year?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 49,000 injuries from traffic-related cycling accidents in a recent year, which was a 5.4 percent increase from the prior year. That is about two percent of all preventable traffic injuries in the U.S., while cyclists only make up about one percent of traffic participants.
What Accounts for the Upward Trend in Bike Accidents?
While fatalities dropped – largely due to the pandemic – injuries and bike accident reports in general increased in recent years.
Many factors might contribute to this, including:
- Cycling is steadily growing in popularity, meaning more inexperienced cyclists are on the roads.
- 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. We discuss some of the more common causes of bicycle accidents below.
Drivers Not Paying Attention to Cyclists
Drivers are increasingly more distracted. Consequently, they do not notice cyclists as consistently as they should. NHTSA data shows that 30 percent of all bicyclist injuries result from cars striking them, and driver distraction is the most common reason; 78 percent of bicycle accidents happen in urban areas where cyclists ride near traffic, so inattentive drivers are a huge risk.
Dangerous Road Conditions
The roads and surfaces on which cyclists ride are not always safe. Local municipalities must maintain their roads and bike lanes 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 Fail to Consider Bicycles as Vehicles
Motor vehicle operators must afford bicycles the same space and right-of-way 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.
More than one-third (34 percent) of fatal bicycle crashes involved alcohol in the system of either the driver or cyclist. Intoxicated driving rose during the pandemic, which increased the chances of drunk drivers failing to see cyclists and crashing into them, causing severe injuries or death.
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 form a useful reference for any legal counsel you may secure and claim you make. 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.