Bicycle accidents are often overlooked as potential personal injury cases. It is easy for cyclists to feel as though they have no rights on the road. They are much smaller, slower and less powerful. Some cities are more bicycle-friendly than others. However, in some cities, there are no lanes or shoulders to ride, leaving the cyclists to ride in the street (dangerous) or the sidewalks (usually against the law).
Most laws dictate that cyclists follow the same rules and laws as motor vehicles, and in some cases, they may be given similar rights as pedestrians. However, it can be intimidating to share the same lane with cars and trucks, especially when they are rushing by you at 30 to 50 miles per hour. Your other option is to ride on the sidewalk, and although you may feel safe from the traffic, you may be posing a risk to pedestrians. Riding on the sidewalk may also get you a ticket.
Although it is of little consolation to some riders out there, there are rules and laws for motor vehicle drivers to follow. It is common to see the yellow diamond-shaped signs indicating bicycle traffic, or the signs pleading with drivers to “share the road.” Unfortunately, drivers often force cyclists onto the sidewalk or off the road onto rough terrain a bicycle may not be built for.
Most bicycle-related accidents are not reported to the police unless they involve death or very serious injuries. Most hit-and-run drivers in bicycle-related accidents are never caught. Unless there are other drivers and witnesses involved, there is rarely enough information. Right after a bicycle accident, it is very difficult for them to pay attention to details such as the type of vehicle that it them or its license plate number. Even the vehicle’s color can be hard to recall after such an event.
Naturally, the best protection is road awareness and following the rules, as well as wearing the proper protective gear (helmet, pads, etc). Also very important (and required by law in most places), are lights. A headlight on the handlebars, a red light usually attached to the seat post pointed to the rear (blinking or not), and reflectors in the spokes make the bicycle more visible from all sides at night. You can improve your chances even more by wearing reflective clothing.
As with driving a motor vehicle, developing your skills is also important. Learn to control your bicycle before braving the highways. The ability to keep your balance while making evasive maneuvers can mean the difference between simply catching your breath after a scary moment, an ambulance ride, or worse.
Proper representation is crucial in any type of injury case, especially bicycle accident injuries, where the shadow of blame is often cast towards the cyclist. There are laws that favor cyclists, and knowing your rights is important.
If you have been involved in a bicycle accident with a motor-vehicle of any kind please contact Harris Personal Injury immediately to find out your rights.