Sacramento is an ideal environment for bicyclists, with its historic attractions, rivers, trails, farmers markets, quaint neighborhoods and tree-line streets. But sharing the road with cars increases the likelihood of bicycle accidents. Here’s why:
- A driver can misjudge the speed of a bike and end up striking the cyclist.
- Car drivers often do not expect bikes to be on the road at all, and are not watching out for them.
- Even when drivers are on the lookout for bikes, they sometimes simply do not see them.
- Even if the driver sees the cyclist, they may not realize that the bike rider is actually on the road.
Where do Bicycle Accidents Occur?
An intersection is where a cyclist is most at risk of getting hit by a car. Interestingly, only 11% of bicycle accidents involve a collision with a car; but of these, 45% take place in intersections. In 2013 in the United States, over 900 bicyclists were actually killed and there were an estimated 494,000 emergency room visits due to bicycle-related injuries.
What Should a Cyclist Do to Avoid Accidents?
In order to minimize the risk of intersection accidents with cars, cyclists need to do things like:
- Be on the lookout for hazards. Potholes, manholes, drains, debris and other road conditions can cause them to lose control.
- Be aware of their surroundings. While this is also true of driving and walking, surroundings of significance to a bicyclist are drivers, other bicyclists, and pedestrians.
- Ride defensively. Don’t assume that the driver of a car can see you and will make good driving decisions.
- Increase visibility. Wear fluorescent clothing during the day, wear retro-reflective clothing at night; and use active lighting to be more visible to drivers.
- Wear a helmet. While they won’t actually prevent an accident, properly fitted bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head and brain injuries in the event of a crash.
- Understand the rules of the road. When you learn to recognize some of the most dangerous intersection hazards, you’re better equipped to avoid them.
- Execute emergency maneuvers to avoid collisions. You can guide a free guide online called Bicycling Street Smarts, which provides information on such maneuvers. Also, the League of American Bicyclists provides safety tips and videos, as well as information on classes that teach emergency maneuvers.
California Bicycle Law
Since, 2003, California bicycle law has dictated that anyone under the age of 18 is required to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, no matter whether they’re on a street, trail, or public path. Though there are some groups interested in making it mandatory for all cyclists to wear a helmet, regardless of age, so far this legislation has not passed. There is much debate, as many bicycle advocates believe that such a law would prevent people from riding bikes.
Who is Liable in a Bicycle Accident?
While this may not reduce accidents, it is important to know the basic rules of liability, i.e. who is responsible in the event of an accident. For example, a cyclist doesn’t always have the right-of-way. If he doesn’t follow the rules of the road, the cyclist might be responsible for his own negligence.
If you have been injured while riding a bicycle, it is important to get treatment right away. If you have questions about liability or need assistance with your injury claim it is important to find a personal injury attorney who understands the laws applicable to bicycle accidents and injury.