Where do you think the most amount of cycling accidents happen? If you are anything like most people, you are probably picturing the middle of a busy street. In reality, intersections are the place where cyclists are most at risk of getting involved in an accident. This may seem counterintuitive, as they only represent a small portion of a cyclist’s route. However, statistics prove that intersections are where cyclists should be the most careful and alert.
The “good” news: only 11% of cycling accidents involve vehicular collisions, so a cyclist’s chances of being seriously injured by a car are rare. In fact, the majority of cycling accidents involve only the cyclist. However, it is important to note that 59% of vehicle-involved cycling accidents take place in intersections.
With such statistics, it is clear that cyclists should be taking all proper precautions to keep themselves safe whenever they are on the street. This involves learning how to maximize visibility, fully understanding road rules, learning how to recognize intersection hazards and dangers, and taking safety precautions when both approaching and riding through an intersection.
Cyclists may also benefit from understanding the basics of liability. In other words, they will want to know who would be legally at fault for whatever accident they may be involved in. Here is the simple truth: any cyclist who does not follow the road rules and/or fails to keep a proper lookout on the road may be deemed at fault for an accident. And, unfair as it may be, cyclists should not be surprised to be blamed for a crash even in cases where the driver was at fault.
It can be difficult to dodge cars and other road hazards while also avoiding any unfair liability claims. That is what makes it so important for all cyclists to understand the proper protocol to take before, after, and during an accident. In this blog post, we aim to help you understand what to do to prevent any cycling accidents and to prevent getting hit with an unearned liability charge.
There are many different factors that make intersections so dangerous for cyclists. For one, it is not uncommon for drivers to underestimate how fast a bike can go. Actually, they may not expect any bikes to be on the road at all. This means that they are not looking for bikes. Even drivers that are watching for bikes may not see them since they are smaller than the vehicles on the road. Cyclists and their bikes may also blend into the background due to the sun, the biker’s clothing, and other contributing factors.
In order to account for all these potential risks, cyclists should take extra precautions at intersections. Much of doing this simply means adopting a common-sense approach. This means you should be riding defensively and being on the lookout—two things you should already be doing to begin with!
You will also want to increase the visibility of both your bike and yourself. This may mean installing front and rear lamps, and wearing reflective or brightly colored clothing. In addition, cyclists should empower themselves by educating themselves on how to execute emergency maneuvers to avoid collisions. The League of American Bicyclists provides classes on this very subject!
Furthermore, you should always make sure to adjust your lane position the left whenever you approach an intersection. This makes you more visible to drivers—something that will obviously work in your favor in preventing any potential accidents. You should also remember to never ride against traffic. This is not only unwise but also illegal. Drivers do not expect to see any bikes coming from the wrong way, and doing so leaves you with minimal reaction time, should you need to maneuver away from a potential accident. And, as mentioned before, you will have to deal with any legal consequences that may occur as a result of driving against traffic—regardless of whether or not you get in an accident at all.
While it may come as a surprise to some, almost every state legally recognizes a bicycle as a “vehicle.” This means that cyclists must follow all road rules just as motorists do. In this way, there are no special legal privileges granted to one group over the other. When it comes down to cyclist-involved vehicular collisions, liability is generally determined by who had the right-of-way. Right-of-way rules differ depending on whether there are traffic signals or no traffic signals.
If two vehicles approach each other at an intersection that has no traffic signals, the general rule of thumb is that the first vehicle to have arrived has the right-of-way. If, however, both vehicles arrived at the same time, the right-of-way is legally granted to the vehicle on the right. These same rules apply at intersections that are controlled by stop signs. Exceptions apply if the intersection is between a minor and major street, in which case the traffic on the major street has the right-of-way.
If two vehicles approach each other at an intersection that has traffic signals, the right-of-way is determined by these traffic signals. In the simplest terms, this means that the right-of-way is granted to a vehicle with a green light and restricted from a vehicle with a red light. Sometimes, signal sensors are not able to detect a cyclist’s presence. If this happens to you, you can position the bicycle closer to the sensors in the road. If this is not enough to trigger the sensors, you may wait until it is safe to cross against the light or simply cross at the crosswalk.
If you have recently been injured in a cycling 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 cycling accident attorneys. Let us fight for you.