Bicycle Safety Awareness
June 1st is the unofficial start to summer – it’s day one of what is known to be meteorological summer! Something about summer has a tendency to bring adults memories back in time, when things may have been a little more carefree. A time when you counted the days until you could ride your new bike (even if it was a hand-me-down from your older sibling).
Whether it’s your first ride on a new bike or your 1,001st ride, there is something about riding a bike that equals freedom for many. Unfortunately, that beautiful feeling can turn to tragedy in an instant. That is why William Mattar, P.C. is dedicated to road safety education for every person on the road, cyclists included, in the communities we serve.
Remember studying for our drivers permit test? Sure, there are a few questions that pertain to sharing the road with bicyclists, but a large portion of the tests focus on proper interaction between motor vehicle operators.
What are the Traffic Laws for Cyclists?
Notably, Section 1231 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law provides that every person riding a bicycle “shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this title, except as to special regulation in this article and except as to those provisions of this title which by their nature have no application.”
Here is a breakdown of some New York State bicycle laws:
- Bicyclists must ride in usable bike lanes: If a usable bike lane is not available, bicyclists can ride near the right-hand curb, the edge of a roadway, or along a right-hand shoulder. When riding on the roadway or shoulder, bicyclists must avoid interfering with the flow of traffic.
- Bicycles must be equipped with a light or lamp at night: NY state law states that from “one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise,” bicyclists must equip their bikes with front and rear lights to remain visible while riding.
- Bicyclists must obey all traffic signals: Traffic lights, stop signs, and other rules of the road apply to all bicyclists.
- A full list of New York State Bicycle Laws can be found by visiting the NYS DOT website.
Despite continued efforts made by cities to improve and create new bike lanes the data does not lie. There were 938 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes in 2020.
- Regardless of the season, bicyclist deaths occurred most often between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
- Bicyclist deaths occur most often in urban areas (79%) compared to rural areas (21%) in 2020.
- Bicyclist deaths were 7 times higher for males than females in 2020.
- One in four fatal bike crashes in 2020 involved a bicyclist who had been drinking alcohol.
The fact remains you are more vulnerable on a bicycle than you are in a car and injuries can happen fast and be severe.
How Can Bicyclists Stay Safe?
It is so important to wear a helmet. Vehicle and Traffic Law 1238 requires bicycle passengers and operators under age 14 to wear protective headgear. Of course, regardless of age, it is a good idea to wear a helmet because it may protect your head or reduce the severity of injury in the event of a collision or fall.
Some localities have laws that require all bicyclists to wear a helmet. For example, an Erie County ordinance requires the use of “a protective safety helmet while operating [a] bicycle.”
Even when following the state safety and traffic laws, cyclists can still be susceptible to dangers on the road. Bicyclists need to be vigilant keeping a lookout for potential hazards including:
- Uneven, rough surfaces;
- Potholes and grates on the road;
- Slippery surfaces;
- Stopped or parked vehicles, as an unseen passenger may exit unexpectedly; and
- Drivers turning (sometimes without a turn signal).
Although when you finally get the opportunity to head out on a bike ride the last thing you are thinking about is getting in an accident. If you are faced with such an unfortunate circumstance, remember the most important thing in any accident situation is your physical well-being. Bicycle accidents can be extremely traumatic for everyone involved.
Once you are certain that you are not in immediate physical danger, you may want to notify the police and, if possible, wait for them to arrive at the scene of the crash. Police are trained to remain calm and informative in stressful situations.
Document as much information about the accident scene as possible. Use your phone to take pictures, often witnesses will provide you with assistance documenting as well.
William Mattar, P.C. Helps Cyclists Injured By Motor Vehicles
If you are an injured bicyclist in this type of situation, you may want to consider consulting William Mattar’s experienced bicycle accident attorneys. Our dedicated team can help analyze and navigate the complex legal issues that can arise after a bike accident, and take some of the pressure off a difficult experience. The injury attorneys at William Mattar have years of experience negotiating with the big insurance companies, and representing injured parties in lawsuits against liable parties. Contact us to file a claim today at (844) 444-4444.
We would like to thank the following bicycle shops and clubs who are committed to supporting bicycle safety: If you would like to join this list, please email [email protected]
Enjoy your freedom and ride safe.