Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

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Bicycle accidents can be particularly frightening due to the lack of protection afforded bicyclists compared to vehicle passengers. While riding a bicycle may be a great way to get around the city while avoiding traffic and caring for the environment, it comes with some risks.

If you or a loved one are a frequent bike rider, it may help to be aware of some of the most common causes for bicycle accidents. Being aware of common hazards on the road may help riders prepare to bike defensively and avoid situations in which an accident might be a higher risk.

Common causes of bicycle accidents may be committed by both bicyclists and drivers, including but not limited to the following:

  • Speeding: Speeding is always dangerous, regardless of where it occurs. However, it may be especially dangerous if there is a possibility that cars and bicycles are sharing the road. Speeding may also be committed by bicyclists in areas where it shouldn’t, such as sidewalks, parking lots, and driveways.
  • Distracted driving/riding: Driving a car or riding a bike while distracted can have catastrophic consequences for the parties involved, particularly the cyclist. Texting while driving or riding, taking a phone call, or otherwise allowing one’s attention to be diverted from the road and surroundings can open up drivers and bicyclists both to the potential for tragic collisions.
  • Weaving through traffic: It may be tempting to weave around cars in the midst of traffic. While this might seem like a good way to save time and make use of the smaller size and maneuverability of a bicycle, it can actually result in severe accidents in which cars and bikes collide, both trying to avoid traffic.
  • Turning without looking: It is imperative that drivers and bicyclists alike look before turning in any direction. It is especially important for cars to pay attention when turning right or when visibility is inhibited, as it can be easy to miss a smaller bicycle.
  • Running a red light or stop sign: This is another one that goes for both drivers and bicyclists; running a red light, stop sign, yield sign, or any other indicator that a person should slow or stop before continuing can have disastrous results. You never know when another driver or bicyclist might have the same idea, and you could find yourself colliding in an intersection.
  • Driving/riding under the influence: Never get behind the wheel or the handlebars if you are in any way impaired. Alcohol, drugs, or any other inhibiting substance can affect a driver’s or bicyclist’s awareness of their surroundings as well as their reaction time and ability. If you are planning to have a drink or otherwise impair your senses, organize a designated driver or plan to call a rideshare vehicle to pick you up.
  • Fatigued driving/riding: Driving or riding a bicycle while tired can actually have the same effect as driving while under the influence. In both situations, the operator’s senses are impaired and their ability to react in a timely manner to surrounding conditions is dangerously diminished.
  • Inattention in parking lots and driveways: It is absolutely essential for both drivers and cyclists to remain ultra aware when passing through or pulling out of a parking lot or driveway. It is all too easy to forget to pay attention, resulting in a bicyclist being struck by the front or back of a vehicle.
  • Driving/riding too close: Drivers and cyclists alike need to give each other as much space as possible. Driving or riding too close together can reduce maneuverability for both parties and create severe accidents.
  • Dooring accidents: This happens when drivers open their door into a street or roadway without looking first and a bicyclist collides with the door. Always look before opening your vehicle to make sure there is nothing likely to strike your vehicle.
  • Side-swiping: This occurs when drivers attempt to pass bicyclists without giving them enough room. Only pass a cyclist if there is clear and extensive visibility ahead, behind, and both sides, and you are able to offer the cyclist a sufficient cushion of room.

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, reach out to a bicycle accident attorney to discuss your eligibility for compensation. Due to the catastrophic nature of many bicycle accidents, medical bills, lost wages, and more may be compensable in a bike accident case.