Tips to Stay Safe When Bicycling in Busy Urban Areas

bicycle accident

When we think of traffic safety, we often think of car crashes or pedestrian accidents. But what about bicyclists? To many people, cyclists lie somewhere in between pedestrians and cars. Some say a bicycle is just like a car when it comes to the rules of the road, and safety precautions, and others say a cyclist is like a pedestrian.

The truth is somewhere in between. Unfortunately, there is not as much attention paid to bicyclist safety, as there is to pedestrian safety, which has led to an increase in the number of bicycle fatalities. Whether you are a cyclist or someone who drives on roads where cyclists are, there are some basic facts you should know about bicycle safety.

If you were injured on your bike in Illinois, the Rolling Meadows bicycle accident attorneys at Claim Your Justice

Bicyclist Fatalities are Up

Traffic fatalities involving bicyclists have increased dramatically-according to the National Safety Council, deaths have risen by 44% in the previous 10 years (although the number of bicycle accidents that are not fatal has actually decreased). That means that there are fewer accidents-but the ones that are happening, are more serious, and deadly.

Despite 2020 being marred by shutdowns, and people staying home, bicycle deaths actually increased by 16% from the year previous. As you may imagine, the most deaths happen in the summer months, between May and September.

In 2020, about 1,200 people died on a bicycle, with most of those deaths being as a result of a collision with a motor vehicle. According to the study, males were much more likely to be victims of cycling deaths than women were. Age plays a factor as well; the death rate amongst younger riders has actually decreased, while the rate for older riders has gone up.

Although we tend to think of intersections as being dangerous-and they can be-most bicyclists killed in 2020, according to the Department of Transportation, were actually riding in areas that did not have an intersection of traffic.

What Rules or Laws do Bicyclists Follow?

Many bicyclists think that they do not have to follow the same rules of the road that cars do. Others may think that some rules apply while others don’t. This confusion is understandable; there is relatively little information to educate cyclists on safety, and what their obligations are when on their bikes.

As a general rule, you should observe the same rules that cars do. For example, you should ride in the same direction that traffic flows, and if you are on the road—even in a bike lane—you should stop for traffic signals and stop signs. As a cyclist, if you are on the road, follow the traffic light-don’t follow the pedestrian “walk/don’t walk” signs, unless you are off your bike, walking it across a pedestrian walkway, of course.

Helmets, and Their Importance

Some tips for being safe on a bicycle are common sense (although often ignored). Here are some pointers on being as safe as possible when you are on a bicycle.

Wearing a helmet can increase safety dramatically, protecting your head, which will often be the first part of your body to hit the ground below in the event of a collision with a vehicle. Helmet wearing is the biggest indicator of survivability after an accident; some studies say that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of serious brain and head injuries by about 60%.

Statistics bear out the importance of helmets; nearly 60% of cycle riders who were killed were not wearing helmets, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Helmets should not just be used, but they should fit properly. There should be about two finger lengths between the end of the helmet and your eyebrows, and one finger should be able to get underneath the chinstrap. Look for helmets that have a Department of Transportation icon or symbol, which indicates that the helmet meets minimum government safety standards.

Don’t ever re-use a helmet if it has already been in an accident.

The state of Illinois has no uniform helmet law for bicyclists. However, some cities and municipalities do, and helmet laws can vary by locality. Some cities have mandatory helmet laws for riders under the ages of 16 or 17.

Other Important Safety Tips for Bicyclists

-Blind Spots – a bicycle doesn’t have blind spots. A car does. When we drive, we’re often aware of where those blind spots are, but when we cycle, we may give little thought to whether or not we are riding in a car’s blind spot. As a general rule, look for the driver in the driver’s rear view mirror—if you can’t see the driver, you probably can’t be seen either, and you are in the driver’s blind spot.

-Big Vehicles and Right Turns – One blind spot that we may not be aware of, is the one that is created when a large truck makes a right turn. Remember that when a large vehicle like a truck makes a right turn, the trailer on the back may not make that right turn very sharply; it tails behind, and can “cut off” the right of way to the right of the truck, even if the front part of the truck stays exactly on the roadway.

-Beware of Opening Doors – Cycling past or next to parked cars is usually safe. Unless you’re so close to those cars, that you can get hit by a door that swings outward. Be aware that people getting in and out of parked cars may not see you; try not to drive so close to stationary cars, that you can be hit by an opening door. Generally, 3-4 feet is a good amount of space, to make sure that you are clear of any car doors that may potentially open.

-Use Lights, Reflectors, and Sounds– Anything that brings you to traffic’s attention—especially at night—should be used. Your bike should have and use reflectors. Bright clothing should be worn, and lights should be affixed to bicycles if you are riding after dark.

Sounds like bells or horns can help also. Granted, they can be hard to hear from inside of a car, but often they can be heard and may bring you to the attention of drivers, to the attention of pedestrians, or to the attention of people getting out of their cars, who may be distracted, or completely unaware that you are there.

-Learn Signaling – There are basic signal signs that you can use on a bike, the same way that a car uses signals. For example, sticking your hand out all the way to the left signals a left turn, and doing the same on the right, signals a right turn, as does putting your left hand in the air.

-Pay Attention – It should go without saying, to pay attention and stay off your cell phone or their electronics while riding. This means being able to hear what’s around you as well; headphones may be fine on a bicycle if you are riding somewhere deserted or solitary, but in a city setting you want to be able to hear cars or their horns around you.

-Watch for Pedestrians – Certainly, you are looking out for yourself, making sure you don’t get hit by cars. But you are also a vehicle, and you can do serious injury to a pedestrian as well, the same way that a car can do; you are expected to yield to pedestrians the same way that a car would. This also means avoiding sidewalks, which are only intended for pedestrians. Unfortunately, many pedestrians may be very careful about oncoming cars–but may not pay much attention to you, on your bicycle.

-Check and Adjust the Bike – If you are using your bike, it is probably a given that it is the right height for you. But in areas where people rent bikes, you may need to do some adjusting. Make sure the seat is not just the right height, but that it is clamped solid, to avoid it moving in the middle of your ride.

-Make eye contact and be visible – Just as you should as a pedestrian, try to make eye contact with drivers, especially in intersections, to make sure that they know you are there.

-Be Consistent – Don’t weave in and out of traffic lanes. Don’t cross traffic erratically. Stay in designated bike lanes, if they are on the roadway. Generally, you want to make yourself as predictable as possible, and act as much as a car would if you were in one.

-Don’t Ride Under the Influence – Many people may have the misconception that bicycling drunk is somehow better, or safer, than getting behind the wheel drunk. But this isn’t the case. The U.S. Department of Transportation found that 18% of cyclists killed in 2020, had elevated (more than .08 percent) blood alcohol levels.

Call Our Rolling Meadows Bicycle Accident Attorney

Were you in an accident on a bicycle? You may need a Rolling Meadows bicycle accident attorney Call our Illinois bicycle accident lawyers at Claim Your Justice to schedule a free consultation at 847-434-3555 to help you if you have been injured while on a cycle.

Personal Injury Attorney Keith Shindler On Bicycle Accidents

bicycle accident

Bicycle Accidents And Personal Injuries

Hello, this is Keith Shindler coming to you with another edition of Claim Your Justice Facebook Live. Personal injuries happen in many types of scenarios, some of which we’ve talked about throughout the weeks. My purpose in having these live sessions is to try and give you information.

I want to provide information to you so that if some tragedy befalls you or anyone you may know, and they’re injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you will be prepared and know the proper course of action to take.  I’m teaching you how to Claim Your Justice.  Call  Claim Your Justice at 1-888-88 KEITH, that’s 1-888-885-3484 and one of our lawyers will professionally help you recover the proper amount of money for the particular injury and the scenario that may have occurred.

Summer Brings More Bicycles

Today we’re going to talk about bicycles. Summer is almost here, soon enough there are going to be lots of bicycles on the road, you are going to be out on a bicycle, your kids will be out on a bicycle, and your adult-grown parents will be out on bicycles.

Unfortunately, there are lots of injuries that happen when someone is out on their bike. The type of injuries that occur can vary greatly. In the worst-case scenario, you have a bike rider who’s run off the road, hits some type of cement pole or median, or falls into a ditch, and is seriously injured. Sometimes those accidents result in someone’s death. That’s rare, but it’s possible.

Frequently, you have someone who suffers an injury like a broken arm, a broken wrist, a broken leg, or head injuries where someone breaks the skull or the orbit around their eye, it’s called an orbital fracture, and you could have a combination of those injuries.

Bike Riders Have Rights

Regretfully, when you have a 20-pound bike versus a 2,000-pound car or a 30,000-pound tractor-trailer, the injuries can be massive. You have got to be careful out there. Bike riders have rights!

A simple fact pattern for when these types of accidents occur. You could be making a right turn at an upcoming street and a car behind you thinks that they can make their right turn before you’ll hit the intersection. They may speed around you and make that right turn, and either turn right into you. Or, in the middle of their turn, your momentum carries you right into the passenger side of their car.

They shouldn’t be doing that, of course, but everyone is in a rush these days as they want to get places fast and there is minimal regard for bike riders out there.

Another scenario you could have is where someone’s trying to make a left turn at an intersection, the bike rider is coming in the opposite direction.

Whether there’s a red light, green light, or no traffic control device at all, the car turns left in front of the bike rider, the bike rider again runs into the passenger side of the car. Or the bike rider comes through an intersection, and the driver makes their left turn smashing right into the bike rider. Drivers often can’t really evaluate how quickly a bike is approaching. It’s much easier to evaluate and guess the speed of an approaching car than it is to guesstimate the speed of a bicycle. The speeds vary up and down greatly with a bike as opposed to a vehicle.

Distracted Driver And Annoyed Driver Accidents

Those are two types of kinds of injuries. What else do we have? This is the worst…You have a distracted driver, who is texting, tuning the radio in their car, or doing something other than paying attention to the road. That distracted driver, as a result, is going to swerve, run into the bike, and run you off the road.

The law is on your side.

One other type of injury you could have is with the driver who’s just annoyed with you being a bike rider on the road. They think roads are meant for cars. You’re on a bike, stay on the sidewalk. Well, personally, I’m a road bike rider. I’m out on the road a lot. I see some of these drivers, they just think that you should not be there.

So, you could have an annoyed driver, and you’ve read some of the news articles about this possibility. Recently, in the past year or so a pickup truck ran into a group of bike riders killing at least a few of them. First of all, criminal, yes, for sure. From a damage perspective, that would be more of an intentional act.

In that particular scenario, we’d ask for what’s called punitive damages. Those damages are meant to punish the person who causes the accident. The law is on your side.

Of course, most of us have seen road signs that say “share the road” or for bike riders not to ride side by side as opposed to single file. I prefer the single file method. I think it’s safer. There are many bike riders out there that will go side by side.

Illinois State Law On Bicycles And Automobiles

There’s a state law in Illinois and at least two Chicago ordinances covering bicyclists. The State law is found in the Illinois Compiled Statutes and it provides that as a car driver when you’re passing a bike, you need to give at least three feet on the side before you pass the bike. Very rarely are there three feet to give. There is a law out there that protects you when you have a driver who hits a biker and didn’t give that three feet to pass. they violated not only traffic rules, but they were negligent as well.

When I’m driving and I see a biker I go as far as the other lane when passing them.  This assumes there is no oncoming traffic.

Personal Injury Compensation You Are Entitled To

Let’s talk about the damages you’re entitled to. You get your medical bills paid for sure. You are entitled to future medical bills paid as well. Pain and suffering. Plus, there could be a permanent disfigurement, someone fractures their hip as a result of being hit by a car. If you have someone who fractures their hip, they could have a limp. If this occurs, that person has permanent disfigurement, and that limp is a permanent disfigurement. Lost wages. Then sometimes bikes are a couple of hundred dollars. Well, when you have a road bike, some of these road bikes out there can cost thousands of dollars. You’re entitled to get your property damage compensated for in addition to these other damages.

What can a bike rider do to make their life safer out there? I’m not preaching to anybody, but I’m just telling you, as I do personally, wear a helmet. I try and wear a brighter color shirt. I want to make sure that people can see me out on the road. I have a front blinking light and a rear blinking light. I observe the rules of the road and try not to ride in the middle of the street. I see some bikers out there, that may be great bikers, but are kind of jerky where they’re right in the middle of the street. This can result in annoying somebody like we were talking about a little earlier.

I do have personal experience here. I was coming down a street in a suburb. I was going through the intersection and a woman, a young lady, maybe in her 30’s driving a minivan with a young kid in the car, paid no attention to me, ran right into my front tire, and knocked me off my bike. Thankfully not a serious injury. My bike was damaged. I did have some blood and cuts on my hands.  Worse and believe it or not she just kept going. She couldn’t care about the bike.

Contact Our Experienced Bicycle Accident Lawyer

So I’m very sensitive about this. I have a lot of emotion representing anyone injured while riding their bicycle, or groups of people injured at the same time.

If you’re injured in any type of work accident, car accident, trip-and-fall, medical malpractice, wrongful death, or for this topic of this today, a bike accident injury call Claim Your Justice. Call 847-434-3555 we’re here to help you Claim Your Justice. Have a great rest of your day.