The Growing Rate of Bicycle Accidents: What You Need to Know

The first automobile crash in the United States occurred in New York City in 1896 when a motor vehicle collided with a bicycle and its rider. The recent resurgence in cycling for commuting and recreation has dramatically increased accidents. In 2009 alone, 630 bicyclists were killed and 51,000 were injured in collisions with motor vehicles.

State laws have attempted to address bicycle safety. Currently, 37 states and Washington D.C. have laws that make helmets mandatory when operating a bicycle; however, most of these laws apply only to children under the age of 18.  Only about 35 percent of bicyclists wear a helmet, so it is not surprising that 91 percent of bicyclists killed in collisions were not wearing a helmet.

Commonly, bicycle collisions with motor vehicles result from one of the following scenarios:  the motorist executed a right turn across the bicyclist’s lane of travel, the motorist turned left at an uncontrolled left-turn intersection, the motorist or the bicyclist did not stop at a red light or stop light, or the moving vehicle “doored” the bicyclist. Dooring occurs when the driver or passenger of a motor vehicle opens a door into the bicyclist’s path, leaving the bicyclist little room to avoid collision and often thrusting the bicyclist over the handlebars, causing serious injuries.

Serving as a personal injury attorney for over thirty years, I understand that bicyclists share many of the

same rights as motor vehicle drivers, and that bicycle accidents demand careful attention to causality and scene details.  Many times an injured bicyclist is whisked away to the hospital without talking with the investigating police officer. This often hinders the bicyclist’s case.  If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle accident, please contact my office at 866-460-1990 for a free consultation.

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