In our Phoenix personal injury law firm, we negotiate fair settlements for bicyclists who have collisions with automobiles. In 2012, 726 cyclists were killed and an additional 49,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Cyclist deaths accounted for 2 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities and made up 2 percent of the people injured in traffic crashes during the year.
There are many reasons for this. One is the lack of areas where bicyclists can travel safely without interacting with motor vehicles. When bicycles and motor vehicles are involved in a crash, the bicycle does not fare well. The less safe the highways become, the fewer bicyclists an automobile driver sees. The fewer bicyclists the automobile driver sees, the more likely the bicycle rider will be overlooked. It is a vicious cycle. Some states have created trails for bicycles only. In Phoenix, South Mountain Park has Silent Sundays on the fourth Sunday of the month when the roads in the park are closed to motor vehicles. A free bikeways map is available from Maricopa Association of Governments. A list of bike trails can be found on www.traillink.com among others.
Bicycles ridden on the roadway are, by Arizona law, vehicles with most of the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles. This means to ride with traffic, to the right, to follow signs and signals and to use proper hand signals. In addition, AAA recommends the following:
- Be Alert Scan ahead, center, left and right.
- Be Wary Pay attention to vehicles, pedestrians and others on the road.
- Be Seen Use your horn, hand signals and lights to be seen by others.
Tips for Safer Cycling
- Wear your helmet. Follow this simple rule and you reduce your risk of serious injury by as much as 85 percent.
- Keep your head up and look ahead, not at the ground. You need to see what is coming up so you have time to react and maneuver.
- One person per bike. Riding with unsecured passengers puts you at risk for injury to yourself and others.
- Ride in single file with space between bikes.
- Ride on the right side of the road, never against traffic. Otherwise, you are at risk for an accident – or a ticket.
- Do not drink and ride.
- Avoid busy roads and peak traffic times on your route.
- Be visible, wear brightly colored clothing during the day; have a reflective or blinking rear light and a front light during the night.
- Maintain the bikes in your household. Keep chains clean and lubricated and periodically inspect brake pads.
- Think of yourself as invisible; peddle defensively.
An excellent Web site with information on “How to Not Get Hit by Cars” can be found at www.bicyclesafe.com. Sometimes, despite all of these tips to minimize risk, collisions occur because the other driver was negligent.
Jay Ciulla is a Phoenix personal injury and wrongful death lawyer who represents bicyclists involved in crashes. Call (602) 495- 0053 for a free consultation.