As we reach the height of summer and the sun stays up later, many Hudson Valley residents and visitors from out of town will take to the street on two wheels. While bicycling can be a fun way to commute while getting exercise, it is important to be aware of safety concerns while on your bike, and to know how best to protect yourself from injury.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, some 515,000 trips to the emergency room in 2010 were due to injuries received while on a bike. The Governors Highway Safety Association estimates that, between 2010 and 2012, fatal accidents involving bicyclists rose by 16%, to 722 deaths in 2012. While only 1% of all trips taken in the US are by bicycle, fatalities among bicyclists account for 2% of deaths involving motor vehicles nationwide. Driving while intoxicated is pointed to as a factor in many fatal crashes, but some 66% of fatally-injured bicyclists had not been wearing a helmet when they were injured.
Bicycle safety researchers say that both municipal governments and industry regulators have the power to make certain changes that could save cyclists’ lives. One example is creating “bike boxes” near intersections where bicyclists can wait for the light to turn green in a highly visible place, which would reduce the threat of the bicyclist getting hit when a car turns right in front of (or into) them. Another safety measure shown to protect cyclists is to simply build more clearly-marked bike lanes or, better yet, bicycle boulevards that run alongside major urban streets but contain much less traffic.
Another change that could save lives is the addition of truck side guards onto large trucks. Large trucks are responsible for a disproportionate number of fatal accidents with bicycles, relative to how many are on the road. Approximately half of these fatal bike/truck accidents occur when the bicyclist first hits the side of the vehicle and is then pulled underneath the wheels of the truck. A number of large metropolitan areas, including New York City, have begun incorporating those side guards in their large utility trucks and trash trucks.
In the meantime, when on a bicycle, always take steps to vigilantly protect your own safety. When riding a bike, always wear a helmet. Wear brightly-colored clothing, and employ bright, flashing lights on your bike to ensure that you’re as visible as possible to the drivers around you. If you’re not an experienced road cyclist, try to avoid riding in busy areas after the sun has begin to set, due to your much lower visibility.
Cyclists will always be vulnerable in comparison with occupants of motor vehicles and large trucks, and driver education on how to share the road with cyclists remains low. If you or a loved one have been hurt in an accident while cycling, contact a knowledgeable attorney to determine if you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. For a free consultation on your possible personal injury lawsuit, contact the experienced accident attorneys at Basch & Keegan. From Albany, Poughkeepsie, or Kingston, New York, contact us.