Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents and How to Avoid Them

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 857 bicyclists killed in bicycle accidents in 2018. Chances are, if you ride a bike, you’ve witnessed some unsafe situations that could have led to an accident. As a leading bicycle accident attorney, Sweet James is all too aware of the dangers cyclists face. If you have been harmed in a bicycle accident, Sweet James and his experienced team of bicycle accident attorneys and personal injury lawyers can help. 
Defined as a crash that occurs between a vehicle and a bike, bicycle accidents cause injuries and deaths that could be avoided. Unfortunately, not all motorists and cyclists follow the rules of the road and tragic situations occur. 
In order to protect yourself from becoming a statistic you should know the common causes of bicycle accidents and how to avoid them. Below, using the knowledge gained from helping hundreds of personal injury accident clients, Sweet James will take you through unsafe scenarios and best safety practices so you can stay safe on the road. 

Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

When it comes to bicycle accidents, Florida is the worst state to ride in. In 2017, there were 125 fatal bike accidents, more than any other state in the nation.  But when it comes to dangerous cities, Florida didn’t even make the list. According to recent reports, these are the top ten most dangerous cities to ride a bike in: 

  1. Albuquerque, NM
  2. Tucson, AZ
  3. Las Vegas, NV
  4. Phoenix, AZ
  5. San Jose, CA
  6. Columbus, OH
  7. San Francisco, CA
  8. Memphis, TN
  9. Philadelphia, PA
  10. Los Angeles, CA.

Dangerous city riding directly correlates to the amount of bikes and drivers on the road. All of these cities have seen a dramatic increase in riders, as people change their commuting habits to be more wallet and earth-friendly. Albuquerque tops the list as the number one most dangerous city for bicyclists, as the number of riders has risen by more than 46% in the past twenty years. 
So what kind of bike crashes are we seeing out on our roads today? The most common bicycle accidents are falls, usually involving only the rider. The most dangerous are bicycle accidents involving cars, leaving many with permanent injuries and sometimes causing death. 

Bicycle Accidents

The causes of accidents that bicycle accident attorney Sweet James often sees are: 

  1. Rider Inattention: Bicycle riders who are distracted carry a high risk of injury. Giving that one is so exposed while on a bike, with little safety gear to truly protect them, even the smallest of distractions can produce the largest of injuries. From headphones, to cellphones, and even pretty scenery – riders who do not stay focused tend to be in accidents. 
  2. Driver Inattention: Much like riders, drivers are easily distracted. Whether they are checking their map or changing the radio, a driver can hit a bicyclist in the split second they stop paying attention. 30% of all injury bicycle accidents are caused by a driver colliding with a bike. 
  3. Dangerous Conditions: Despite a city’s duty of care to ensure all roadways and bike lanes are well maintained and free from hazards, 13% of all injury bicycle accidents are caused by roads in disrepair. If you have been hurt due to dangerous conditions, you’ll likely need a public entity attorney to help you reach a settlement. 
  4. Night Riding: Riding at night increases your chances of being in an accident. The NHTSA found that regardless of the season, bicyclist deaths occurred most often between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  5. Situational Awareness: It may surprise you, but a number of bicycle accidents occur when a car hits a rider from behind. Without the proper mirrors and situational awareness, bike riders are at risk of being hit by something they don’t see. 
  6. Unsafe Crossing: Crossing in front of a car is a huge risk, even in a designated crosswalk. Before entering the road, make sure to make eye contact with a vehicle’s operator before crossing in front of their path. Never assume someone sees you. 

How To Avoid Bicycle Accidents – Cyclists 

How does one avoid a bicycle accident? The NHTSA recommends the following best practices for bicycle safety: 

  • Ride a bike that fits you—if it’s too big, it’s harder to control the bike.
  • Ride a bike that works—it really doesn’t matter how well you ride if the brakes don’t work.
  • Wear equipment to protect you and make you more visible to others, like a bike helmet, bright clothing (during the day), reflective gear, and a white front light and red rear light and reflectors on your bike (at night, or when visibility is poor).
  • Ride one per seat, with both hands on the handlebars, unless signaling a turn.
  • Carry all items in a backpack or strapped to the back of the bike.
  • Tuck and tie your shoe laces and pant legs so they don’t get caught in your bike chain.
  • Plan your route—if driving as a vehicle on the road, choose routes with less traffic and slower speeds. Your safest route may be away from traffic altogether, in a bike lane or on a bike path. 

Bicycle accident attorney Sweet James adds to the list, advising that riders practice the following in order to avoid a tragic bicycle accident: 

  • Drive in the same direction as traffic, but ensure you have mirrors to see behind you. 
  • Look up your city’s laws regarding bike riding and driving, making sure to follow all traffic rules. 
  • Pay attention to and obey street signs, especially stop signs. 
  • Never assume someone sees you. 
  • Keep your eyes on the road. 
  • Ditch the music and keep your ears open for possible hazards. 
  • Be predictable, don’t make any sudden crossings or lane changes. 

Do You Need A Bicycle Accident Attorney? 

Do you need a bicycle accident attorney? If you are involved in one of these very common causes of bicycle accidents, then you absolutely do. Taking the next steps within the legal field is scary and often overwhelming. Thankfully, our experienced bicycle accident lawyers are here for you every step of the way.  By contacting personal injury attorney Sweet James, we can help you receive the maximum settlement for your pain and suffering.


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