Cincinnati and Southwestern Ohio
Counties of Hamilton Butler Clermont Warren
Bicyclists often sustain worse injuries than those involving car-on-car collisions. The injuries typically involve fractures, internal injuries, closed head trauma, and road rash. Many of these injuries also involve disfigurement and scarring.
Injury lawyers know that, as to collisions between cars and bikes, the witnesses are sometimes biased against the bicyclist. A surprising number of people regard bicyclists as carefree and reckless – even as a nuisance. This bias, when evident, must be met with a forceful and carefully thought-out strategy.
To compound public perception problems, bicyclists are often surprised to realize they lack insurance to cover their injuries.
Bicyclists Are Vulnerable Everywhere They Go
Bicyclists continue to be injured or killed as more take up the sport. Statistics bear out that nearly three-quarters of bicyclist deaths occur in urban areas. Of those, about 30% are at intersections. Clearly, cycling is popular in those very areas where there is the highest concentration of cars and trucks. Studies underscore that most fatal bicycle collisions take place between the evening hours of 5 to 9 pm.
While the percentage of bicyclist fatalities is relatively small compared to the total number of vehicle collisions, the actual number of people hurt or killed is quite high, given that there are so many cyclists. Among both children and adults, over 80% of bicyclists who are killed or seriously injured are male. Studies show that children up to age 14 are the most likely to be seriously hurt or killed while riding a bike.
Many people think of drunk driving as harming only motorists, but that is a skewed perception. Those operating a bicycle in Ohio are very vulnerable to getting struck by an impaired driver. In fact, over one-third of all bicycle accident fatalities are alcohol-related. This is too high a number, especially considering that drunk driving laws have immeasurably helped curtail cycling deaths.
What we have learned is that many bicyclists wrongly believe that if they wear a helmet, and follow the law, they are doing everything they must to assure their safety.
The reality is that bicyclists are always in real danger. Many drivers are distracted or simply not expecting a cyclist. Anyone on a bike should assume they are invisible, and take extra steps to signal their presence. The common excuse given by negligent drivers, in deposition or trial, is that they never even saw the cyclist. However those operating motor vehicles in southwestern Ohio are charged with the duty to maintain a proper lookout.
Riding on the Sidewalk
It is not uncommon for sidewalk collisions to take place between pedestrians and cyclists. The federal government numbers inform us that sidewalk cycling is two times more dangerous than operating a bicycle on a roadway. The restricted space is an invitation to trouble. Pedestrians actually are safer than cyclists, on a sidewalk, because they move more slowly and have a better 360 degree range of vision.
We look forward to more car-free communities being built in the future, such as Bicycle City (www.bicyclecity.com) just outside of Columbia, South Carolina. Cyclists and pedestrians living in harmony in this no-car enclave serve as a model for similar such planned living arrangements in the United States.
Serious injuries often result when the cyclist is legally right, but may not have done everything possible to ensure self-protection. For example, many car-bike wrecks take place on obviously busy streets of narrow dimension. This is unnecessary because, when care is shown, cycling is safer than traveling in a car.
How humans perceive of danger is often flawed. What we have seen repeatedly in our law practice is that many of the same cyclists are injured by making familiar mistakes. The cyclist often is not seen when they ride without a light, or ride on the wrong side of the road, or roll through stop signs. Much tragedy could be avoided if cyclists were simply more aware of surrounding traffic.
A safe rider is one who operates their bike more like a car and observes the rules of the road. And cyclists can even further put the odds in their favor:
- Lights on, even in the day, preferably with red blinkers
- Horns used
- Reflective vests with safety triangles
A cyclist should assume they are invisible and that traffic laws often will fall short of offering protection. The bicycle rider should always believe he or she is in the best possible position to prevent tragedy from entering their lives.