With the warmer weather slowly but surely approaching us in Massachusetts, there are more and more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. While cycling is healthy from a physical health perspective and good for the environment, as a form of transportation shared with the busy streets, bicycle accidents are a risk that must be properly considered and prepared for.
Fortunately if you understand the risks you are able to better prepare for them. In this article we will outline how to prevent a bike and car collision, from a motorist and cyclist personal injury perspective, as well as what to do if you’ve been in one already.
While the statistics show that bicycle accidents are still common with more and more people traveling this way, Boston has carried out extensive research into where bicycle accidents happen, and in response has made significant improvements for bicyclists in preventing accidents.
Some of the improvements they have implemented are:
- Officers set up in areas where there are statistically higher rates of accidents
- More visibility and lighting in areas with higher rates of accidents
- Biking culture/normalization – The government organization Boston Bikes has dramatically expanding bike lane mileage citywide, installing more signs, improving crosswalks, rolling out the Hubway bike-share program in 2011, even enhancing street design to prevent accidents.
Even so, there are still significant risks you must prepare for. The motorist, too, must also drive in a safe and reasonable manner, and must take into consideration that the cyclist also has a right to the road, as it is not always the case where the motorist has the right of way. There can be a perception that cyclists are a nuisance, however similarly motorists have legal responsibilities in careful driving.
As a cyclist, you want to be sure that your bike is the right fit and that you are fully focused on the road with no earbuds or mobile phone usage. By observing the traffic laws, you ride in a manner that is predictable to others so your chances of being collided with are reduced. This will also protect your legal rights in case you are involved with a collision, so be sure you are fully aware of the traffic laws in your area. These are the current laws, under Chapter 85, Section 11B of the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.). They are further broken down here.
If you violate traffic laws, you can be charged with negligence if it contributes to a collision, and this will significantly reduce your compensation in almost all cases. Even if you are charged with any negligence by even a small percentage, it will negatively impact your amount of compensation in your personal injury case, so you want to be sure to always follow the traffic laws. Use caution as a driver or a cyclist, and situational awareness when traveling the road.
Preventing an accident using the following tips below will ensure your safety while you navigate the busy streets, say on a fun ride or your daily commute:
- Slow down, especially in close proximity to intersections and cars
- Exercise extreme caution at all times, but particularly intersections: this is where most accidents occur
- Get a flashing light and reflectors for cycling at night, it is required by the law to be used 30 minutes before sunset through the hours 30 minutes before sunrise.
- Yell/wave if you are crossing an intersection or taking a turn and you’re not confident the driver sees you
- Ride with traffic
- Wear a reflective safety triangle on your back. Most accidents happen because the driver didn’t see the cyclist, so it’s important to make yourself as conspicuous as possible
- Ride behind the car when you can, particularly when at a red light in a four way intersection so you are not in their blind spot
If you’ve been involved in an accident already:
Check out our previous blog post here on pedestrian accidents if you are a cyclist that’s been hit. If you are a motorist that hit a pedestrian, check out our previous blog post covering this topic here.
In 2018 at Tramontozzi Law Offices, we recently secured a substantial settlement for a cyclist who was hit in Newburyport. We specialize in personal injury, and with extended expertise in this area we are your advocate. Review our testimonials for success stories like this one, and reach out for your free consultation at Tramontozzi Law Offices.