Bicycles are a terrific transportation option. They are eco-friendly and they promote physical fitness.
But bicycles have one major disadvantage, which is their inherent lack of safety. Riders do not have the shell of a car to protect them. A bike’s small size also makes it easy for them to fall into drivers’ blind spots.
If you were injured in a bicycle accident, you can incur serious injuries. A good lawyer can help get you the compensation you deserve.
Luschas, Naparsteck & Crane, LLP has years of experience representing clients in the Columbia County, PA area. Read on to find out how we can help protect your rights.
Pennsylvania Bicycle Accident Statistics
Bicycle accidents are all too common, especially in a busy state like Pennsylvania. According to the PA Department of Transportation, 1141 bicycle crashes were reported to police in 2017. 21 of those crashes were fatal.
One out of every five bikers injured in a car accident was under 14 years of age. This age group also accounted for one in four fatalities that occurred throughout the year.
Riders 15 to 19 are second most likely to be involved in car accidents, accounting for 14.2% of injuries and 9.5% of fatalities.
What are the Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?
Bicycle accidents can occur for several reasons including the following:
Unsafe Lane Changes: Because bicycles are so small, it is easy for them to fall into a driver’s blind spot. A driver may try to get over without seeing there is a bicycle next to them. When this occurs, the bicycle could easily get run off the road.
Failing to Leave an Adequate Buffer: Drivers should be leaving a 2-3 second buffer between their car and the car in front of them. That buffer should increase to 3-4 seconds when cars are following bikes due to the bike’s smaller size and lower speed capacity. When drivers fail to leave an adequate buffer, it can result in a hazardous situation.
Debris in the Road: A bike’s smaller size makes riders especially vulnerable to debris in the road. If the debris was caused by nearby construction, the contractor or the city may be responsible for damages.
Equipment Failure: Equipment failure can occur on the bike or on another car. If a car’s equipment fails, the manufacturer or mechanic may be to blame.
Weaving Through Traffic: A bicycle accident is not always the driver’s fault. Bicyclists tend to weave in and out of lanes to get to their destination faster. This type of activity is illegal in most states due to its potential to cause an accident.
Opening Car Doors: Many drivers exit their vehicles without looking for oncoming traffic when opening their car doors. Oncoming bicyclists may collide with doors resulting in serious injuries.
Other Traffic Violations: It’s up to everyone on the road to stay safe and that means no disobeying of traffic signs and signals, no driving intoxicated, fatigued, or distracted and no speeding. If the bicyclist or driver engages in any activity that is considered illegal, they are increasing the risk of a collision.
What are Common Bicycle Accident Injuries?
A bicycle accident can result in serious injuries including the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Road burn
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
- Wrongful death
Pennsylvania Bicycle Laws
Bicycle accidents can be prevented if both drivers and bicyclists are familiar with the rules of the road. Here are the Pennsylvania bicycle laws you should be aware of.
- Bicyclists may only ride two abreast if they are on a part of the road designated for bicyclists. Doing so in any other situation is considered illegal.
- Bicyclists should allow at least four feet of distance between themselves and parked cars to avoid being hit by car doors.
- It is illegal to ride a bike on the freeway.
- Bicyclists must obey all traffic signs, lights, and rules just like any other driver.
- Bicyclists must use hand signals when turning or changing lanes.
- It is illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in most locations.
- Bicyclists under 12 years old must wear a helmet whenever they are riding a bike. Wearing a helmet is not required for older riders, but it is recommended.
- Bicycles must have brakes that will stop the bike in 15 feet when riders are at a speed of 15 mph on dry, level pavement.
- Some PA municipalities may require riders to equip their bikes with a small bell or similar device.
- It is recommended but not required that bicyclists stay to the right of the road and move with the flow of traffic.
Motorists must also be careful when riding near bicyclists. Here are some rules they should be obeying:
- Drivers must allow four feet of distance when overtaking a bicycle and must maintain a safe speed when passing.
- Drivers must check the road before opening their car doors to make sure no bicyclists are coming.
Other Safety Tips
Here are some other things bicyclists should be doing to stay safe:
- Wear bright colors and reflective materials when riding so you are more noticeable to drivers.
- Put reflectors on your bike. (This is required for night riding.)
- Maintain your bike so you do not cause a hazardous situation by breaking down due to faulty equipment.
Why Luschas, Naparsteck & Crane, LLP is Your Best Choice for Bicycle Accident Representation in Pennsylvania
Bike accidents can lead to serious injuries. Do not let at fault drivers get away with it.
Luschas, Naparsteck & Crane, LLP has years of experience representing personal injury victims in the Columbia County, PA area. We treat our clients with a high level of care and respect. Our winning results speak for themselves.
Injured in a bike accident? Call Luschas, Naparsteck & Crane, LLP to schedule a free consultation. We will see to it that justice is served.