While riding a bike has many benefits, one of the drawbacks is that if you’re ever involved in an accident you will not have the protection you do when you’re in a car. Because of the lack of protection, there is a very real possibility of bike crashes being deadly. There is an average of about 7 deaths from bike accidents each year in Massachusetts, according to data from 2017-2022. In 2020 there were 10 bike accident-related deaths, while there were far fewer in 2021, with 5 bicycle fatalities. In 2021, there were about 200 bicycle crashes in Massachusetts.
The most common months for bike crash fatalities in Massachusetts are July and November. It’s also most common for bike accidents to happen between noon and 6pm. While there are more common times of the day and year for bike accidents, there are also a few top scenarios that lead to bike accidents and injuries.
5 Most Common Causes of Bike Crashes in Massachusetts
- The Right Pull Out Crash
- This type of bike accident happens when a driver pulls out into a road to make a right turn but doesn’t see an oncoming cyclist.
- What typically happens is that the car will hit the cyclist in a T-bone type accident, or, the car will pull out in front of the cyclist at the very last moment and causes the cyclist to crash into the side of the car.
- This type of accident is especially common in Boston and other congested city areas in Massachusetts where roadways are tight.
- The Right Hook Bicycle Crash
- This type of bike accident happens when a car passes a cyclist on their left, and then makes a right-hand turn in front of the cyclist. Drivers often misjudge the speed of cyclists and don’t realize how close they are before making their right-hand turn.
- This is one of the deadliest car and bike accidents we see in our Massachusetts Bike Injury law office.
- Getting “Doored”
- This is a very dangerous type of accident that can happen very easily. Getting “Doored” is when a parked driver opens their driver’s side door of their car right as a cyclist approaches and causes an accident. In the most serious cases, the cyclist will run into the door of the car and fly over their handlebars, over the door, and land on the road.
- This type of accident can happen easily, as a driver is often much less aware of their surroundings when they are in a parked car. People often forget to look for cyclists before exiting their car.
- A Rear End Bicycle Crash
- This type of bike accident involves getting rear-ended on your bike by a car.
- The Left Cross Collision
- This type of accident happens when a cyclist is riding straight through an intersection, and a car driving the opposite direction takes a left turn and either hits the cyclist or forces the cyclist to collide with them.
Ways to Reduce the Risk of These 5 Common Bike Accident Scenarios
- Reducing the Risk of the Right Pull Out Crash
- Being as visible as possible can help avoid this type of car accident. Wear bright clothing, have a headlight or flashing light on the front of your bike even during the day, reduce your speed at intersections and anticipate that a car could be coming out of a right-hand street at any time.
- If possible, try to make eye contact with drivers so you know that they see you before you continue across the road.
- Reducing the Risk of the Right Hook Bicycle Crash
- The farther left a cyclist rides in the bike lane, the more aware a car will be when they pass by. Being far left in the lane could also give you more of a chance to swerve in the event a car does cut you off.
- Treat every intersection with extreme caution – both to be aware of cars entering the roadway who may not see you, as well as the cars you are traveling with.
- Reducing the Risk of Getting “Doored”
- Unfortunately, there is not much a cyclist can do to reduce this risk from happening, as it mostly occurs due to an inattentive driver or passenger.
- If possible, ride farther to the left in the bike lane, and you can attempt to see if anyone is in their car as you approach.
- Reducing the Risk of a Rear-End Bicycle Crash
- The best way to reduce the risk of getting hit from behind while cycling in Massachusetts is by being as visible as possible. Wear neon or fluorescent clothing, have bright lights and reflectors on your bike, and ride during daylight hours if at all possible.
- While staying as far right as possible may feel safer, it is actually best to stay further left as drivers will see you more readily and pay more attention to you. If you’re biking in a designated bike lane, keep left in the lane, and if you’re biking in a traffic lane, ride about 6 inches right of the white line.
- Reducing the Risk of the Left Cross Collision
- Yet again, one of the best ways to avoid this type of accident is to slow down or stop at all intersections to ensure it is safe to cross. Intersections are one of the most dangerous places to bike through, because of all the different types of accidents that commonly happen in the intersections.
Most Common Causes E-Bike Injuries
Electric bikes, or e-bikes, have helped welcome many new people to the world of cycling in Massachusetts. With the recent increase in gas prices, more people have recently purchased e-bikes. E-bikes help give cyclists an extra boost when riding and are a great way to get low-impact exercise and commute to work.
With the growing popularity of e-bikes, there has been an increase in injuries such as:
- Collisions with cars, pedestrians or other cyclists
- Riding at unsafe speeds
- Injuries from not following local traffic rules
- Not knowing road safety techniques
In general, e-bike riders are more likely to be injured and hospitalized with injuries compared to traditional bike riders. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that someone on an e-bike can ride up to 28 miles per hour, while the average commuter cyclist travels at about 12 miles per hour.
Safety Tips To Avoid Common Bike Injuries
- Wearing a helmet is one of the single most important things to do to protect yourself no matter where you’re riding.
- Monitor your speed, especially if you’re on an e-bike. Slow down as you approach all intersections.
- Wear bright colors so drivers can see you more easily.
- Follow all the local traffic rules and laws.
- Take time to get comfortable on your bike before riding in bike lanes and in roadways, this includes getting to know your e-bike even if you were already an avid cyclist.
8 Ways Drivers Can Help Avoid Bike Collisions
See the top 8 ways that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation encourages drivers to help make biking safer state-wide.
- Follow Traffic Laws and Pay Attention
- Drive the speed limit, and use turn signals to help cyclists anticipate your next move. Driving at the speed limit helps ensure that you can make a quick stop if needed and could save lives of cyclists and pedestrians.
- Drive with Respect
- Be mindful and patient, and be aware that aggressive driving behaviors create dangerous situations for cyclists.
- Give Bicycles Room on the Road
- Drivers should leave 3 feet or more between their car and a bicyclist. While the law currently only requires a “safe passing distance,” 3 feet is recommended and may soon become law.
- Prevent Collisions at Intersections
- Bicyclists have the same right of way rights as drivers at intersections. Most commonly, accidents happen when drivers are turning right (and they crash into or cut off a cyclist), or when a driver is turing left from the opposite direction without noticing a cyclist passing through the intersection.
- When making a right turn, drivers should check their mirrors and blind spots.
- When making left turns, look for bicyclists and if you see one, allow them to pass through the intersection completely before turning.
- Use Caution at Driveways
- Many bike and car accidents happen on sidewalks due to drivers pulling out of their driveways without looking for cyclists.
- Make sure you look both ways before backing up, and back or pull out of the driveway extremely slowly. If you live in a neighborhood with children or live near a school, it is especially important to check for bikers.
- Anticipate Roadway Obstacles
- Cyclists may need to avoid potholes or debris, so be an engaged driver and leave ample space if passing a cyclist.
- Avoid “Dooring” Bicyclists
- Before you exit your car, check your sideview and rearview mirrors for bicyclists. When you do open the door, reach over with your right hand, and look backward as you slowly open your door.
- Do Not Look at Your Phone
- In Massachusetts, it is illegal to use your phone or electronic devices while driving because of the serious danger it poses.
- If a phone call is necessary, drivers need to pull over or park their car, or put the phone in a hands-free mode so both hands are free to operate the vehicle.
Being a careful and aware driver can help save your life, and the lives of pedestrians and particularly cyclists.
Injured On A Bike In Massachusetts? Our Chelsea And Peabody Bike Accident Attorneys Offer FREE Consultations
If you were injured in a bicycle or e-bike accident, Spada Law Group’s injury attorneys can work to protect your legal rights. We have three offices and proudly serve the entire state with the ability to meet with you remotely from the comfort of your own home. Contact us for a free consultation so we can learn more about your bike or e-bike injury case and see how we can help you get the recovery you deserve after your accident.