A bike accident can happen in so many ways. Anything from poor road conditions, defective equipment, rider inattentiveness and negligent car drivers on their cell phones can cause tragic accidents. Too many in fact to discuss in one blog article. But there are 5 scenarios that we see the most and we will discuss those accident scenarios below and hopefully add some insight on how you as a cyclist can avoid becoming a statistic. As an avid cyclist myself, I too am always looking for ways to stay safer on the roads.
The Right Pull Out Accident
What is it? The Pull-Out accident occurs when a car pulls out of a street, driveway, or parking lot which is on the right of the cyclist. One of two things often happen here; either the car hits the cyclist broadside as in a T-bone accident or the car pulls out in front of the cyclist giving him or her no time to stop and the cyclist crashes into the driver’s side of the car.
What can we cyclists do to reduce the risk: You will hear me preach this over and over, we need to be more visible. We really should have a headlight or flashing light on the front of your bike, even during the daytime. We can also wear the most highly visible clothing possible. Neon green is best. We need to reduce our speed at intersections and anticipate (even assume) a car exiting to our right EVERYTIME there is a street or curb cut from which a car could enter our path or hit us. I always try to make eye contact, so I am certain the driver knows I am there.
Possible Massachusetts Laws Violated by the car driver: Typically, the driver is negligent for failing to keep a proper lookout and yielding to the bicyclist’s right of way, especially if the car is exiting a parking lot or a driveway. Obviously if a cyclist runs a stop sign or red light they will most likely be deemed at fault for the accident so remember to obey all traffic signals yourself when riding.
The ‘Right Hook’ Bicycle Accident
What is it? The most common way this type of collision occurs is when a car passes us on our left then takes a sharp right turn, cutting us off and hitting us as they turn. The car passes us and, for whatever reason, doesn’t realize we are just slightly behind them and they quickly make a right turn causing a collision. I once handled a tragic case where the cyclist was pulled under the wheels of a box truck who took a sharp right turn into a parking lot, cutting off the cyclist and unfortunately killing him. For this reason the right hook is one of the deadlier types of car versus bike accidents we see.
What can we cyclists do to reduce the risk: We should ride farther left in the lane, causing cars to pass us. Even if cut off, you will already be positioned farther to the left as a head start on swerving to avoid a collision. Also, treat every intersection with extreme caution. Slow or stop before entering an intersection and be as aware of what traffic is behind you as you are of the traffic in front of you.
Possible Massachusetts Laws Violated by the car driver: Massachusetts law states that automobile drivers, when passing a bicycle near an intersection or driveway where they want to turn right, cannot turn unless they are at a safe distance from the bicyclist and they can make the turn at a reasonable and proper speed. (Chap. 90, Sec 14)
What is it? This happened to me when I was a young man (about 20yrs old). I was riding my bike on Revere Beach when a driver of a car who was parked on my right opened his door quickly causing me to hit the door, sending me up and over my handle bars and the door and landing in the middle of the road. Fortunately, there was not another car coming or you might not be reading this blog right now.
What can we cyclists do to reduce the risk: Not too much to be honest. We can try to ride farther to the left if traffic permits. This makes us a bit more visible to the cars driving behind us and hopefully gives us more room to accommodate a careless door opening. I always keep a lookout to see If someone is seated in the driver’s seat of any car parked on my right.
Laws violated by the driver: Drivers and passengers can be fined up to $100 for opening a vehicle door into an oncoming bicycle. (Chap. 90, Sec 14).
The ‘Rear End’ Bicycle Accident
What is it? This one speaks for itself. Getting rear ended by a car while on your bike almost never ends well. It is one of every cyclists’ biggest fears.
What can we cyclists do to reduce the risk: Be obnoxiously visible. Bright lights, highly visible clothing etc. Also do your best to choose your ride times when visibility is highest and avoid night riding if possible. Headlights, taillights, and reflective gear can save your life. It may be seem like bad advice, but do not ride too close to the curb. Drivers will pay more attention to you if you ride about six inches inside the white shoulder line, and not outside of it or on it.
Laws violated by the driver: Laws in Massachusetts require motor vehicle operators to maintain a safe distance when overtaking a bike and general principles of negligence laws will often dictate that the person who hits a cyclist from behind will be held liable for the collision.
The ‘Left Cross’ Collision
What is it? You are riding straight through an intersection when a car traveling in the opposite direction takes a left turn and either hits you or crosses your path leaving you no time to avoid a collision.
What can we cyclists do to reduce the risk: The best advice here is slow or stop at all intersections and be sure it is safe to cross. Even if you have the right of way, be prepared to take evasive action. I always assume that the operator of a nearby car can’t see me. Remember the goal is to stay alive, not to win a lawsuit.
Laws violated by the driver: Left turns — Massachusetts law states that “Any operator intending to turn left, in an intersection, across the path or lane of vehicles approaching from the opposite direction shall, before turning, yield the right-of-way until such time as the left turn can be made with reasonable safety.” (Chap. 89, Sec 8).
Have You Been Injured in a Boston Bicycle Accident?
The best thing you can do if you have been injured in a Boston bicycle accident and want to be fairly compensated is to understand your legal rights before you make any decisions. Before you speak to an insurance company adjuster, sign or submit any paperwork or hire a lawyer, you owe it to yourself to get as much information as you can, so you can make a smart decision on what you need to do next. At Spada Law Group, we offer free consumer guides and videos that answer many of the questions bicycle accident victims have. Take a look, download our free information or contact us for a free consultation. Learn what Spada Law Group is all about and how we might be the right bicycle accident lawyers for you.