We all know that Denver, Colorado and the surrounding areas attract some of the most active people in the country. With all of the physical activities that our town has to offer, it is not a surprise that we find our neighbors and acquaintances living a very active lifestyle. One way that we find ourselves and other Denver locals keeping their bodies busy is by riding their bikes, whether as a mode of transportation to get from one place to another or just for recreation. While this activity may be very enjoyable and freeing, it is also very dangerous.
Although many of our streets have bike lanes, making it possible for riders to not share a lane with vehicles, the sheer proximity of the two different types of transportation still creates the possibility of a dangerous atmosphere. One mistake, lapse of judgment, or distraction can immediately put the bicyclist, other bicyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers in danger. Because of the freeing nature of riding a bike, the rider is very vulnerable to outside injuries.
According to a study done by the Boulder Cycling Club, cycling accidents are all too common, with motor vehicle related accidents in one of the top most common occurrences. According to their study, the most common type of cycling accident occurs when the rider falls with no other personal contact, whether that be because they lost control of their bike, hit some sort of outside debris, or some other reason. These types of accidents account for 50% of cycling accidents.
The next ranking is where motor vehicle safety comes into play. According to the same study, 20% of bicycle accidents occur when they collide with a motor vehicle, whether that is a car, truck, motorcycle, or some other vehicle. With this high of a percentage, it is very important that bicyclists understand the common reasons for these accidents and the best way to prevent them.
There are two forms of motor vehicle-bicycle accidents: driver-caused and cyclist-caused.
Types of Driver-Caused Accidents
One of the most common driver-caused accidents occurs when drivers turning left do not yield to the oncoming cyclist. Drivers, especially in areas that have new bike lanes, are not used to looking out for things other than other cars when deciding when to turn left. This can result in a very serious bicycle accident.
Another common driver-caused accident, much like the first, is when drivers do not check the bike lane before turning right. When we learn to drive, we are told that we should be in the right-most lane when turning that direction. This means that the main traffic that right-turners are used to looking out for is traffic coming from the front or from their left. So when a bicyclist is approaching from their right, many drivers to not check that area or mirror, causing them to turn right into the bicyclist as they pass.
The third most common driver-caused bicycle accident occurs when the driver is not paying attention while they are pulling out of their driveway. Instead of just looking at oncoming traffic, drivers should also be checking sidewalks and bike lanes when backing out of a driveway.
Types of Cyclist-Caused Accidents
A common from of cyclist-caused accidents occur when the rider does not look behind them before they turn away from the curb. For the most part, cyclists feel most comfortable while they are at the curb, and sometimes that comfort extends past its limit, and riders find themselves turning without double-checking that there is not traffic coming from either side.
Bike-car collisions often occur as well. These happen when the cyclist is failing to maintain a safe following distance to the cars around them. If a car stops abruptly and the cyclist has not given themselves room to react, they can find themselves slamming into the car in front of them.
The third most common cyclist-related accident occurs when cyclists do not follow common laws of the roadway. Just as motor vehicles legally have to stop at all traffic stops (lights, stop signs, etc.), cyclists are obligated to follow these same rules. When a rider does not stop at these types of stops, accidents can very easily occur.
Although there is no way to completely prevent an accident, there are steps that cyclists can follow to decrease the risk of accident or injury.
- Don’t wear headphones. It is important that cyclists can hear what is happening around them. Things that can be very important for cyclists to hear include oncoming traffic, car horns, and emergency vehicle sirens.
- Wear visible clothing. As stated earlier, not all drivers are accustomed to looking for cyclists. Wearing visible clothing can decrease your risk of not being seen.
- It is just as important for bicyclists to signal as it is for cars. Imagine a world without turn signals and the accidents that would occur.
- Look out for your surrounding.
- Watch out for car doors. Very often, cars are parked on the side of road. Be cautious that a door may be open.
- Use your bell. Just as you would use your horn in a vehicle, use your bell when needed.
- Ride in a straight line. Operate your bike in the most predictable way possible. Unpredictable riding increases the chance of accident.
- Always wear a helmet. According to the same study done by the Boulder Cycling Club, head injuries account for 75% of all deaths and permanent disabilities in bicycle accidents.
With the Denver, Colorado, area being so active, it is very important to ride intelligently and safely.
If you or a loved on has been injured in a bicycle related accident in Colorado, contact the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya today. We want to help you recover and return to your normal life. Call us today!