Seeking Justice for Bicyclists in South Bay
Bicycling is a fun and well-loved activity. Whether you use your bicycle for leisurely evening rides, exercise, or to get from one place to another, you must stay safe while you ride. Unfortunately, your safety is not always in your own hands. When sharing the road with motorists and pedestrians, several things can go wrong, and it is impossible to mitigate all risks when riding. Though you cannot necessarily prevent a bicycle accident from occurring, you can learn about the risks and outcomes of bicycle riding to ensure that you are as safe as you can be.
Accidents Decreasing, Deaths Increasing
The answer to the question, “How many bicycle accidents are there a year?” is not as straightforward as you might expect. The rate of bicycle accidents has been steadily declining in recent years, with a 5,000-accident decrease from 2014 to 2015. However, though overall accidents have been going down, the percentage of deaths these accidents cause has increased. For example, 800 bicyclists died in accidents in 2017, compared to 868 in 2019. This is concerning for many reasons and suggests that bicycling may be more seriously dangerous than it used to be. While accidents may be down, the likelihood that you will die if you get in an accident is increased, making bicycling a higher risk activity than ever.
Why Are Bicycle Accidents Decreasing?
It’s important to assess why bike accidents may be decreasing across the county. Though the answer to this problem is undoubtedly multifaceted, we can point to a few strong hypotheses about why bicycle accident rates may be declining.
One major changemaker in bicyclist safety is the increase in community education surrounding biking. Bicycling has become a popular option for many people as a mode of transportation. Not only does it provide excellent exercise, but it also saves on gas and avoids public transportation options which can be slow, crowded, and unreliable. Because of this increase in bike use, many cities around the country have implemented awareness campaigns to be sure that drivers and bicyclists alike understand the rules of the road. Awareness and education make a difference in preventing accidents and are major contributors to the declining accident rates.
Another way in which cities are increasing awareness is by building infrastructure to support bicyclists. This can include designated bike lanes, more signs, and indicators for bicyclists, parkways, trails to ride on, and incentives to use bikes over cars. Building these kinds of tools and policies triggers an additional level of awareness and keeps bikers safe by giving them their own space.
Motor Vehicle Updates
As automobiles continue to become more high-tech, the safety features benefit others on the road as well. Blindspot sensors, lane indicators, backup cameras, and other vehicle improvements allow drivers to be more aware of bicyclists on the road. While a bicyclist may have been difficult to see in the past, many cars now help their drivers to see them and avoid dangerous maneuvers that cause collisions.
Though these certainly aren’t the only reasons that bicycle accidents are declining, they contribute to the safety and well-being on the road.
Why Are Bicycle Deaths Increasing?
As with the decrease in accidents, the increase in bicycle deaths has no single reason. For the most part, experts are unsure why bicycle deaths are happening with increasing frequency, but they have a few educated guesses.
Though cars are becoming more able to compensate for gaps in driver vision, they are not meant to counterbalance distracted driving habits. The number of driver distractions is only increasing with the advent of new technology. Though there are campaigns to curb habits such as driving and texting, the efforts do not necessarily yield perfect results. Many drivers still choose to text or use their phones while on the road, which poses a danger to bicyclists. If a driver is not paying attention and hits a bicyclist, the outcome is often lethal.
An Increase in Driving
Another significant factor is the frequency with which Americans are using cars. Fewer and fewer people opt for public transport options over driving, and many households have several vehicles to share between them. This means that there is simply a higher probability that a biker and a car will collide on the road.
Shift Away From Small Cars
Though many people do have compact vehicles, there has been an increase in large trucks and sports vehicles on the road. These modes of transportation are helpful in some ways, but when it comes to bikers and public safety, they pose more of a threat. Injuries sustained during a collision with a large truck or sports vehicle are more likely to result in a fatality than a similar encounter with a compact car.
Combining these factors increases the likelihood that, when a bike and a car collide, the accident will result in a fatality. Because bikers are out in the open and do not have the safety equipment that comes standard in vehicles, they are most likely to suffer the more serious injury in the collision. Many times, it is fatal.
Ways to Stay Safe
Information like this can feel intimidating and make many people afraid to get out and ride their bikes. Though there is an inherent risk in biking, there are ways to lower your chances of getting in a fatal cycling accident. By following these simple suggestions, you can help to protect your own life and make sure that others stay safe on the road, too.
Wear a Helmet
You have likely heard this advice since you were a child, but it is still incredibly important. Approximately 60% of all injuries sustained during biking accidents are traumatic brain injuries. These injuries are incredibly serious and can be significantly reduced by wearing a helmet. Be sure that you get a helmet that properly fits your head and make sure to wear it whenever you are on your bicycle.
Put on Reflective Clothing
No matter what color clothing you choose to wear, it can be difficult for drivers to see you when you’re riding your bike. Be sure to wear a reflective vest and put reflectors on your helmet, wheels, and pedals. This helps drivers see you from far away, so they can drive with care when they pass you.
Be a Defensive Rider
Try to anticipate the maneuvers of pedestrians, motorists, and other cyclists when you are riding your bike. The more you can predict what others will do, the better you can avoid dangerous situations on your bike. The key to defensive riding is to stay focused on what is going on and avoid listening to your headphones while riding. Though it may be tempting to turn on a podcast or your favorite album on your morning commute, it can prevent you from anticipating others’ maneuvers and could cost you your life.
Pick Safe Times and Routes
Most bicycle accidents happen between 6 and 9 at night. If you can, try to avoid riding during these times. Drivers are usually leaving a full day of work and are eager to get home and rest. Because of this, they are less likely to be alert and focused on the road, and it’s easy for accidents to occur. Later in the evening and after dinnertime, there is a higher likelihood for drivers to be intoxicated, posing a significant threat to bicyclists. No matter when you go biking, make sure that you plan your route beforehand. Avoid any route that puts you in a high traffic area or a road that does not have proper bicycle accommodations. Opt for trails and bike paths whenever possible.
Even though bike riding comes naturally to many people, it still requires precision and practice. Just because you ride your bike leisurely does not mean that you can apply the same skills to biking to work. Make sure you practice riding in a safe area such as an empty parking lot or a driveway before you go anywhere that could pose a risk. The more comfortable you are with your bike, the better your chances of avoiding an accident. Practice also allows you to make sure that your bike fits your body, that your seat and handlebars are in the correct place, and that your bike is in working condition before you take it to the streets.
So, how many bicycle accidents are there a year? Hard to say. However, one thing is for sure. If you practice safe habits on the road, you are less likely to suffer life-threatening injuries due to an accident.
Contact McLachlan Law APC
Even if you are careful and follow all the rules, you can still get into an accident. If this does occur, you need a team of lawyers on your side to ensure that you receive proper compensation for your injuries. Medical bills from a bike accident can be astronomical, and a reasonable settlement can be the difference between appropriate care and lifelong pain. For a South Bay bicycle accident attorney, contact McLachlan Law APC today.