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Bicyclists Beware: Accidents All Too Common

Every single year thousands of cycling enthusiasts descend on Tucson, Arizona for the annual El Tour de Tucson. Held the weekend before Thanksgiving, some 9000 participants ride between 25 and 104 miles around the second largest city in Arizona. The event attracts cyclists from all over the United States and the world, with a range ages and skill levels.

Unfortunately, as well regulated and policed as this event is, accidents still happen. In 2013, the Tour de Tucson had a tragedy occur. An elderly driver struck and killed a cyclist participating in the event. The cyclist, 59-year old John S. Henderson, died at the scene after he was struck from behind while riding in a designated bike lane.

Accidents involving cars and bicyclists happen all too often around the United States. Doing a quick web search for bicycle accidents returns thousands of results. These stories were all posted between Jan. 28, 2016 and Feb. 2, 2016:

  • A 15-year-old was struck while riding a bike in Beaverton, Oregon.
  • A 14-year-old was hit and killed by a car in Whatcom County, Washington while riding a bike on Highway 547.
  • A man in Romeoville, Illinois was hit after cutting in front of a driver on Route 53. He was traveling against traffic at the time.
  • In Mesa, AZ an elderly man was killed while riding his bike.
  • In Anderson Township, Ohio a man was killed in a hit-and-run by a driver. The driver is alleged to have been under the influence of drugs at the time.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) has statistics available on the national rate of these kinds of accidents. The NHTSA classifies bicyclists as pedalcyclists, a category that includes other pedal-powered vehicles such as tricycles and unicycles. In 2013, 743 pedalcycylists were killed in traffic crashes. The NHTSA defines traffic crashes as “an incident that involved one or more motor vehicles where at least one vehicle was in transport and the crash originated on a public traffic way, such as a road or highway.” 48,000 pedalcyclists were injured in crashes in 2013. The deaths counted as 2% of all traffic crash fatalities and the injuries made up 2% of overall injuries. Since 2010, there has been a 19% increase in pedalcyclist fatalities due to motor vehicle crashes. In 2013, vehicle-pedalcyclist accidents most commonly occurred in urban areas, with crashes occurring 68% of the time in an urban area. The pedalcyclists involved in the crashes were most often male. 87% of those killed were men, as were 83% of those injured. The states with the most pedalcyclist fatalities in 2013 were California with 141, Florida with 133, and Texas with 48.

The NHTSA offers the some safety tips for riders:

  1. Always Wear A Helmet: this “the single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash.”
  2. Obey The Rules Of The Road: Cyclists must follow all the same rules of the road a person driving a car such as stopping at stop signs and intersections.
  3. Use Reflective Clothing and Lights: During the day, brightly colored clothing helps increase a cyclist’s visibility. At night, cyclists can use “a front light and a red reflector or flashing rear light, and use retro-reflective tape or markings on equipment or clothing.”

Cycling is a fun recreational activity, as well as great way to stay in shape. When riding on any road or highway, it is important for cyclists to remember to be careful because, as the above statistics and news stories show, accidents do happen. It is also important for drivers to remember to share the road and watch for cyclists so as to help prevent injuries and accidents. If a driver is negligent, it can lead to potentially catastrophic consequences for the cyclist and subject the driver to both criminal and civil liability.

If you or a loved one has been injured while riding a bicycle, you need a skilled attorney to handle your claim. The attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian have years of experience handling personal injury and medical malpractice cases. Please do not hesitate to contact our office today for a free consultation.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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