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The Dangers with Bicycling in Cities
Bicycling is a great way to stay in shape, save money on your commute, and reduce your carbon footprint every day. And while bicycling has significant benefits, cycling in the city also comes with serious risks to your health. Distracted, reckless, and negligent drivers can present the potential for injuries, even where cyclists are diligently obeying the rules of the road.Frequent Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Not every bicycle accident is the same, and such accidents may stem from a variety of causes. Many of the most common causes of bicycle accidents can be traced to automobile drivers, such as inattentive driving due to distractions such as mobile phones; failure to yield to cyclists; and opening doors into bicycle lanes without looking.
Distracted and negligent driving is particularly serious when it involves the drivers of commercial vans and trucks, which are larger in size and leave less room for error. Not all accidents are caused by automobile drivers, of course; defective bicycle parts also contribute to a significant number of bicycle accidents.Injuries Sustained in Bicycle Accidents
Just because cyclists tend to travel at a slower rate of speed than automobiles doesn’t mean that bicycle accidents do not cause serious injuries. In fact, bicycle accidents can be quite serious because of the lack of protection bicycles provide to their riders. Among the most common injuries sustained by cyclists in collisions are traumatic brain injuries, bone fractures, and lacerations and scrapes from contact with the ground. Unfortunately, some cycling accidents do cause the death of cyclists.Bicycle Accident Statistics
When bicycle accidents occur, the focus is often simply on the accident at hand, so it can be difficult to get the bigger picture of how such accidents affect communities. The numbers behind bicycle accidents help tell the full story, and some of them can be surprising.
For example, a total of 630 cyclists died as a result of cycling accidents throughout 2009. Of those fatalities, 74 of the victims, or 23 percent, were 14 years of age or younger. The statistics also indicate that 93 bicyclists aged 15 or younger were killed, and a staggering 13,000 cyclists aged 15 or younger were killed during 2009.
Injuries and fatalities are not simply limited to younger cyclists, however. During 2009, the average age of bicyclists injured in the United States was 31, while the average age of cyclists killed in the United States was 41. Although bicycle deaths account for only 2 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States, statistics indicate injuries are on the rise; in 2007, 43,000 cyclists were injured, but by 2009, that number increased to 51,000.Sampling of Laws to Applicable to Protect Bicycle Riders
Legislatures around the country have recognized the myriad dangers cyclists faced and have responded with a variety of laws designed to protect bicycle riders, as well as pedestrians and drivers. Many of them are basic and do not inconvenience drivers, such as laws requiring drivers to exercise care by, for example, refraining from using phones while driving, in order to protect cyclists. Other jurisdictions require drivers to refrain from opening their doors until it is safe to do so and to only pass cyclists on the left with adequate room between the automobile and the bicycle.
In many areas, drivers cannot park or drive in designated bicycle lanes, and some jurisdictions require drivers to yield to cyclists making left turns. These simple regulations and others may help significantly reduce the likelihood of bicycle accidents that result in injuries or death.
Learn more about our bicycle accident practice here.