Written By Chris Dolan and Anna Pantsulaya
This week’s question comes from Leo from San Francisco, CA, who asks: Since more people are cycling for health, environmental, and many other reasons, how can cyclists lessen their chances of being killed on the road?
That’s a great observation. Each year, the world witnesses an increasing number of cyclists taking to the streets, embracing a sustainable and healthy mode of transportation. However, amidst this surge in popularity, a dark and unsettling reality looms large–the rising number of cyclist deaths. The streets we envisioned as havens for cyclists are turning into danger zones, and we can no longer ignore the devastating consequences. The urgency to address this issue has never been more pressing. Let’s dig into the alarming rise in cyclist deaths and explore the staggering statistics related to cyclist deaths on our roads.
Cycling on the streets, while promoting a healthy and eco-friendly lifestyle, is not without its hazards. Cyclists face numerous dangers that put their lives at risk every time they venture onto the roadways. The lack of designated cycling infrastructure in many cities forces cyclists to share space with motor vehicles, resulting in a constant battle for space and visibility. Inadequate or poorly maintained bike lanes and reckless driving habits increase the chances of collisions and accidents. Additionally, distracted driving, speeding, and a general lack of awareness among motorists about sharing the road with cyclists contribute to the perilous conditions. Unpredictable weather, road conditions, and limited lighting further amplify the risks. The hazards of bicycling on the street are real and demand immediate attention to ensure the safety of cyclists and create a harmonious coexistence between all road users.
According to a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), in 2021, a staggering 966 cyclists lost their lives in traffic accidents. This unfortunate statistic represents the highest number of cycling fatalities in a single year since 1975. Moreover, it highlights a concerning trend of yearly increases in cycling deaths nationwide. The NHTSA also reports that the number of pedal cyclists injured in traffic crashes reached 41,615 in 2021 – a 7% increase from 2020.
When analyzing data from the NHTSA and the U.S. Census Bureau, it becomes evident that there was an average of 2.7 fatal bicycle crashes for every million U.S. residents between 2017 and 2021. This figure represents a 5% increase compared to 2012-2016. In 2021 alone, cycling fatalities were reported in all 50 states, with more than half of the deaths concentrated in the top five states: Florida, California, Texas, New York, and Arizona.
Ensuring personal safety should be a top priority for cyclists when navigating the roads. By adopting a proactive approach and following essential safety measures, cyclists can greatly reduce the risk of accidents and protect themselves from harm. Firstly, wearing a properly fitted helmet is crucial to safeguarding against head injuries. Additionally, cyclists should invest in reflective clothing and accessories, making themselves more visible to motorists, especially during low-light conditions. Obeying traffic rules and signals is essential, as it helps maintain predictability and enables other road users to anticipate the cyclist’s movements. Staying vigilant and constantly scanning the surroundings for potential hazards is also vital. Regular bike maintenance, including checking brakes, tire pressure, and lights, ensures optimal performance and reduces the likelihood of mechanical failures. Lastly, cyclists should choose routes with dedicated cycling infrastructure, such as bike lanes or paths, to minimize exposure to motor vehicle traffic. By adhering to these safety guidelines, cyclists can significantly enhance their well-being and enjoy a safer riding experience.
When injured in a cycling accident, contacting an attorney is crucial in protecting one’s rights and seeking appropriate compensation. The aftermath of a cycling accident can be physically and emotionally overwhelming and dealing with insurance companies and legal processes can be complex and daunting. By consulting an experienced attorney specializing in personal injury cases, cyclists can gain invaluable guidance and support. An attorney can navigate the legal complexities, investigate the accident, gather evidence, and build a strong case for the injured cyclist. They possess the knowledge and expertise to negotiate with insurance companies, ensuring that victims receive fair and just compensation for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Moreover, attorneys can provide invaluable advice on interacting with insurance adjusters and help protect victims from potential tactics used to minimize their claims. Ultimately, enlisting the services of an attorney empowers injured cyclists to assert their rights, level the playing field, and obtain the legal recourse they deserve for their injuries and losses.
With a wealth of expertise in handling cases involving injured cyclists, the legal professionals at The Dolan Law Firm possess extensive experience in this field. If you or a cherished family member have suffered injuries in a cycling accident due to the negligence of another party, we encourage you to approach our skilled attorneys for assistance confidently. Rest assured that our team is well-equipped to provide you with the support and legal representation necessary to seek justice and fair compensation for your circumstances.
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Christopher B. Dolan is the owner of the Dolan Law Firm. Anna Pantsulaya is an associate attorney in our Los Angeles, CA, office. We serve San Francisco Bay Area and California clients from our San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles offices. Email questions and topics for future articles to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Each situation is different, and this column does not constitute legal advice. We recommend consulting with an experienced trial attorney to understand your rights fully.