People love their bicycles. And why not? Not only do they get you from one place to another, but you also get exercise while you’re going there. You can use them for work, for sports, or simply ride them for pleasure.
But there is also a downside to riding a bicycle: accidents. In Europe, especially in The Netherlands and Denmark, where more people ride bicycles, there are fewer accidents. There is protection in numbers.
Situational Awareness Even While Riding in a Bike Lane
In the United States, efforts have been made in the past couple of decades to increase bicyclists’ safety. On streets, bicycle lanes have been created, under the theory that this will keep bicyclists out of the way of motor vehicles. Still, bicyclists shouldn’t neglect to practice situational awareness as they ride. The time will always come when a motor vehicle must cross into these lanes to make a turn, putting the bicyclist in danger.
Another instance where bicyclists often encounter danger from motorists is when the vehicle is making a left turn and crossing through a crosswalk. Motorists not paying attention to who or what is using the crosswalk they’re driving through have hit bicycles and pedestrians alike.
It’s interesting to note that the incidence of dying as a result of a bicycle accident is six-times higher among males than females. Males are also 4 times more likely to get injured riding a bicycle than females.
Children and Bicycle Accidents
Children account for about half of all injuries experienced while riding a bike. They also have a high incidence of traumatic brain injuries from bicycle accidents.
The riskiest time for children is after a birthday or Christmas. They’re, of course, eager to get out and ride that new bicycle they just received. An additional risk for children is the fact that most are likely just learning how to ride.
Teaching Children Safety
Children must be taught from an early age not only how to ride a bicycle, but how to be safe doing it. Children need to be taught to not dart out into traffic and not swerve about wildly on a sidewalk where people are present, and in the street, too. Most residential streets don’t have bicycle lanes. Children need to learn the art of awareness of what is going on around them.
Other Causes of Accidents
People suddenly opening car doors is another type of accident experienced by bicyclists. Motorists often forget to check around them before opening their car doors. Other types of accidents include drivers not leaving enough space when driving around a bicyclist or not stopping quickly enough at an intersection and rear-ending a bicycle.
Distracted driving causes accidents not just with other motor vehicles, but also with bicycles. The worst culprits are people talking or texting on a phone or browsing an app. Drunk (and buzzed) drivers are, of course, a danger to everyone.
What To Do After an Accident
After an accident, if at all possible, try to get witness statements as soon as possible. If you’re not able to, hopefully, any first responders on the scene will gather them. These are important if your case ends up going to trial. Likewise, try to get photographs of the scene and of any damage to the bicycle and any vehicles involved. You’ll also want to get a copy of the police report when you’re able.
Consulting With a Lawyer
In any type of injury resulting from an accident, you’ll want to consult with an injury lawyer about your case. In most cases, your initial consultation meeting will be free. The lawyer will use this time and any evidence you might have to decide what sort of case you might have.
Damages you might receive in a bicycle injury case may include compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, property damage, and even wrongful death.
Report the Accident As Soon As You Can
Don’t let too much time pass between the accident and when you consult with a lawyer. There are statutes of limitation for how long a period of time can pass before it’s too late to bring suit against someone.
Bicycle riding can be enjoyable and stress-relieving. It’s a sport the entire family can often participate in. But along with the enjoyment comes responsibility. You can’t just jump on a bike and ride all over the road oblivious to everything around you. Both the bicyclist and the motorist need to practice situational awareness while in movement.