It is an undeniable fact that Colorado is one of the most scenic states in all of the United States. With so much natural beauty all around, it is no surprise that bicycling is a popular pastime here. This is especially true when the weather warms up and school lets out. Bicycling lanes are at their most full during the summertime.
While it is obviously a great thing to have more people enjoying the outdoors, this may come with a downside. Naturally, the risks of getting into a cyclist-related accident go up dramatically when more cyclists are on the road. This makes summertime bicycle season in the State of Colorado.
Whether you are a cyclist, driver, or pedestrian, it is always important to take all the proper precautions when you are out on the road. Nobody wants to believe that they will ever get into a bicycling accident. Unfortunately, even the best-laid plans can go awry.
The good news is that most bicycling accidents are preventable. And it is always better to handle a problem before it even has the chance to happen than after. If you are going to be one of the cyclists on Colorado’s roads this summer, read on to find out more about how you may be able to prevent any personal injury.
Many cycling accidents occur because people underestimate how dangerous cycling can be. They may think it is just a fun activity or a nice and simple way to get in some exercise. In reality, cycling comes with serious risks. We do not say this to put you off of cycling forever. After all, nothing is 100% safe all the time. However, it is important to know just how severe a bicycling accident can be.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 800 bicyclists were killed in an auto accident in 2015 alone. This number breaks down to over two bicyclists dead every day. Additionally, 2015 saw a 12.2% increase in these accidents over the previous year.
Cycling accidents can be serious even when they do not lead to death. There were around 45,000 reported cycling injuries in 2015—and this is a low estimate. Because this number only accounts for injuries that were reported to the police, the actual number is likely even higher. In fact, 45,000 could be as low as only 10% of the reality.
The good news: many bicycling accidents only lead to minor injuries, and those minor injuries lead to quick recoveries. However, this is not always the case. Much of the existing research suggests that there is much more for us to learn about the dangers of cycling. Mountain bikers, in particular, might be at serious risk of long-term spinal injuries.
Dr. Marcel Dvorak, a professor at The University of British Columbia, located in Vancouver, Canada, warns mountain bikers to be wary of taking their health too lightly. While reviewing some archival research, he found that nobody had ever looked at the risks of spinal injuries specifically among mountain bikers.
“People need to know,” he says, “that the activities they choose to engage in may carry with them unique and specific risks. Helmets will not protect you from these [spinal] injuries, nor will wearing Ninja Turtle-like body armor.”
In his own research, Dr. Marcel Dvorak found that 102 men and five women had been evaluated at the British Columbia Primary Spine Center for mountain biking accidents from 1995 to 2007. This made them up to 4% of all spinal trauma admissions to the center.
Because our state is so popular for outdoor recreation, it is safe to assume that the rate of injury is higher in Colorado than in most other states. A study commissioned by the Colorado Department of Transportation Bicycle/Pedestrian Program found that there were over 60 minor injuries and over 18 moderate injuries from bike crashes on paved Colorado roads in the year 2000 alone. These numbers are likely even higher today.
All these statistics have probably convinced you of any previously unforeseen dangers of bicycling. However, there is no reason to despair and live your life in fear. As we mentioned before, most cycling accidents are preventable. There are several quick and easy steps you can take to try to keep yourself safe.
Make sure that your bike is always in tip-top condition. This means subjecting it to routine inspections and tune-ups as needed. For most bikers, these should occur at least once per year. A surprising number of bicycling accidents are caused by equipment failure.
You will also, of course, want to make sure that you are wearing all relevant protective gear. Contrary to popular belief, helmets are not the be-all, end-all of safety. You may want to also consider wearing gloves, kneepads, and other protective body armor. This is especially true if you will be mountain biking or biking on rough terrain.
Bicycles are also subject to road laws just like cars are. Make sure that you are always aware of what these laws are, and follow them as closely as possible. This is true regardless of whether you are at a busy intersection or a quiet mountain trail. Do not go where you are not allowed, adhere to all standard traffic laws, and do not put yourself at any unnecessary risk. Depending on exactly where you are, you may also need to follow bicycle-specific ordinances.
Sometimes, you do everything you can and something still goes wrong. No matter what you do right, you cannot always stop someone else from doing wrong. If you have been involved in a bicycling accident, we at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced nationwide bicycling accident attorneys. Let us fight for you.