One of the most challenging parts of getting older is realizing that my exercise routines have to change. When I was younger, going to the gym and lifting weights was my idea of “working out”. I stayed away from cardio because I felt it was boring. Then I got older, suddenly my back hurt, my neck hurt, my shoulders ached — basically, everything started to hurt. My body was starting to break down. That’s when I discovered cycling. It’s fun, it’s challenging, less taxing on my joints and gives you a mean workout. It is however much more dangerous than your standard gym workout. Barreling 35 mph downhill on thin tires while cars and trucks pass within a few feet of your shoulders is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are opting to avoid crowded public transportation and commute via bicycle. This is a smart decision because it’s good for your personal health and good for the environment. However, cycling is not without its risks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2018, over 850 bicycles were killed in the United States after colliding with a motor vehicle. According to the NHTSA, “A large percentage of crashes can be avoided if motorists and cyclists follow the rules of the road and watch out for each other.”
Safety Rules for Cyclists
If you are new to commuting on your bicycle, then be aware that you are considered part of traffic. The NHTSA says that cyclists 10 years of age or older should behave like other vehicles on the street. A February 2017 analysis in the International Journal of Epidemiology reviewed 40 separate studies and found helmet use significantly reduced the odds of head injury. They also found the odds of a fatal head injury to be lower when cyclists wore a helmet. Bicycle helmet use was associated with reduced odds of head injury, serious head injury, facial injury and fatal head injury. The reduction was greater for serious or fatal head injury. So, wear your helmet and follow the rules of the road, including riding with the flow of traffic. Other safety rules to follow include:
- Wear a helmet.
- Remain visible by dressing in light-colored clothing and attaching reflective equipment to your bicycle.
- Ride in the bike lane when possible. If there is no bike lane, then ride on the right of the road, not on the sidewalk.
- Check over your shoulder and signal before changing position.
- Don’t talk on the phone or listen to music while riding.
- Obey all traffic laws, signs, and lights.
- Assume cars cannot see you. Wait until a car passes before changing position.
Safety Rules for Automobile Drivers
In accidents between cars and bicyclists, the person on the bike will always be the one most in danger. Here’s how drivers can help do their part to reduce accidents by checking for bicyclists when behind the wheel:
- Train yourself to check for bicycles when crossing an intersection or making a turn.
- When you are passing a cyclist on the road, make sure you give them at least 3 feet of space.
- Check for oncoming cyclists before opening your door.
- Never try to startle a cyclist by honking your horn as you pass by.
Bicycles are vehicles entitled to share the road with drivers. As more bicycles join the daily community, it’s up to everyone to make the roads as safe as possible
What Do You Do If You Are Injured By or On A Bicycle?
It depends on how you were injured. Most cycling accidents unfortunately involve cyclist versus motor vehicle. In those situations, assuming the operator of the motor vehicle is at fault, you need to pursue recovery against the driver and his or her auto insurance company. You would be entitled to recover damages for your medical expenses and lost wages, if any, from the driver’s auto insurance and if your injuries and/or medical treatment qualify, also your pain and suffering. For a more in-depth discussion of your rights when your cycling accident involves a motor vehicle, you can download my free book here which will answer all your questions.
Two less common but very dangerous scenarios we have seen in our practice, are when a cyclist is injured by another cyclist or when a cyclist’s injuries involve a pedestrian. These types of crashes can result in serious injuries and sometimes death. Two recent cases we have handled illustrate these potentially dangerous situations. In one case, our client was walking across a street in downtown Boston when a bike messenger ran her over while she was in a crosswalk. The cyclist’s homeowner’s policy ended up settling with our client for her injuries. In a more recent case, our client was cycling with the flow of vehicular traffic as required, when another cyclist coming in the opposite direction, but on the wrong side of travel, struck our client causing very serious injuries. The cyclist travelling in the wrong direction had a homeowner’s policy who stepped in and provided coverage for their policy holder. The important thing to remember here is that in scenarios that DO NOT involve an automobile, the at fault person, whether it be a pedestrian or another cyclist, may be covered for their negligence through their homeowner’s policy or if they are renters, through their renter’s insurance. This fact is not common knowledge and it often prevents injured pedestrians and cyclists from pursuing their legal right to seek compensation when they are injured. Since the language found in homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies vary, it is important to have an experience bicycle attorney review the facts of your case as soon as possible after your accident.
Most apartment complexes in the greater Boston area require residents to have renter’s insurance and almost all homeowner’s have homeowner’s insurance, especially if they have a mortgage on their home. So, the chances of there being coverage for injuries suffered in a cycling accident are usually quite high.
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.