Hazard on Two Wheels: How Bicyclist Negligence Puts You at Risk
High gas prices, expensive commutes, and the rise in obesity all contribute to more and more people finding it financially and physically practical to leave their cars at home and take their bikes.
Millions of bicyclists take to the road on a daily basis across the United States. Texas alone—shoot, Houston alone—has thousands of commuters who use their bikes to get to work, or to the grocery store, or to school. Now, that being said, although biking can save you some money and help you lose a few extra pounds, it can also put you at risk for severe injuries if you’re not careful.
Violations That Put You at Risk
The problem with riding a bicycle is that you’re completely unprotected when it comes to accidents. While drivers and passengers in cars can count on crumple zones, seat belts, airbags, and countless other protective devices, a bicyclist can only count on a helmet and the caution of other drivers. Consequently, to protect themselves from catastrophic accidents and injuries, bikers must diligently follow the rules of the road and be extra cautious while riding near traffic.
As a biker, you may feel that cars should yield to you and grant you a certain amount of leeway on the road (as they do with motorcycles). However, the simple fact of the matter is that motorists can’t be expected to cater to you if you can’t be seen or if you dangerously flout the rules of the road. This is why it is absolutely imperative that when you pedal around town, you make sure to use hand signals, wear proper protective gear (helmet, gloves, pads), and avoid putting yourself at risk.
The following are common bicyclist behaviors that can easily trigger disastrous accidents:
- Biking through lights and signs without stopping. Running a stop sign or a red light is a good way to get yourself hit no matter what sort of vehicle you happen to be using. However, when you run a light on a bike, your chances of a collision increase exponentially, because crossing traffic will find it harder to see you than if you were in a passenger vehicle. Furthermore, your injuries will be far worse if struck on a bike than if struck while in a car.
- Riding against traffic. This is, to put it bluntly, a bad move—and that goes double if you happen to be on a bike. A bicyclist has no business pedaling towards oncoming traffic under any circumstances; not only will it confuse and disorient drivers, but it will increase your chance for fatal injuries in a head-on collision.
- Riding without lights and reflectors. Cars and motorcycles have the benefit of headlights and tail lights built right in. Bicycles do not. If you don’t have reflectors on your bike or your body, the average car driver will not be able to see you until well after it is too late.
- Turning left without warning. Making a left turn from the right side of the road is a daunting enough task even if you are driving in a car. Making this turn on a bike requires real patience and very safe bicycling habits. Don’t ever just cut across the lanes of traffic without signaling or looking.
- Riding too close to the curb or on the sidewalk. Riding with your wheels too close to the curb invites the prospect of banging your tire against the embankment and losing control of your bike. Either stay in the center of your lane or stay as far away from the curb as you possibly can. Riding on the sidewalk can be dangerous as cars could be backing out of driveways and not see you until it is too late.
When Precaution Isn’t Enough
The truth is that most bicyclists have good safety records. When there’s a crash between a bike and a powered vehicle, usually it’s not the biker’s fault. Usually. Not always.
Riding defensively and cautiously is the best way to avoid an accident. However, it isn’t a guarantee that you’ll never get injured. If you have recently been involved in a car accident while you were safely and responsibly riding your bike, you may be eligible for significant damage compensation. Contact Attorney Steve Lee today for a free legal consultation, and allow us to help secure your rights.