Car accidents always have the risk of being fatal, but especially if there is a bicycle involved. The consequences of hitting a biker are severe, as these riders are typically unprotected from harm with the exception of wearing a helmet. While most bikers know the risks of heading out onto the roads, it isn't always the bikers fault if a collision does happen. In such a bike friendly city, Austinites should be more aware of their road companions to prevent accidents and injuries. Here's a breakdown of the precautions each party should take:
Invest in headlights
It is difficult enough to spot other cars that don't have headlights on. This problem is magnified with cyclists because your bicycle is so much smaller than a vehicle. Minimize your chances of colliding with an automobile and always ride with lights. In the evenings when the sun goes down it is also recommended that you ride with a reflective neon vest so you can be easier to spot. Although, you may think you look silly riding with a headlight affixed to your helmet this could also prevent potential accidents.
Stay away from the curb
Most people assume that the closer you ride to the curb the less likely it is that automobile drivers will collide with you. Assuming a primary position by adjusting yourself into the middle of the lane actually reduces the likelihood of accidents. It is suggested that you ride at least 50-60 centimeters away from the curb at all times. Riding at this distance away from the curb makes it easier for vehicles to notice you. Establishing your presence in the middle of the lane forces automobile drivers to drive with caution and not overtake you.
Do not hesitate
Sharing the road with drivers safely tucked away in a 2,000 pound vehicle can sometimes be frightening. If a collision does occur they will be protected by airbags and steel, your only protection on the road is a helmet. You can almost guarantee that your injuries will be more severe than those of the driver behind the wheel. However, this should not cause you to be uncertain on the road. Hesitation and uncertainty can lead to serious injury. If you are signaling to turn, make eye contact with the driver and then turn. If you carefully follow road rules, make eye contact, and use the proper hand signals you have to trust that the driver saw you and will acknowledge your desire to turn. This is not to say that you can become cocky and reckless on the road by assuming all drivers will always share the road. Following road safety rules and riding with confidence can make your riding experience a pleasant one.
Make Yourself Visible
The most important thing that you should do as a cyclist is make yourself visible. This can be done by wearing bright colors or adding lights and reflectors to your bicycle. The most common excuse given in car-bicycle accidents is that the driver of the car could not see the biker, even claiming that they were not visible on the road. Most bicycle-car accidents occur at intersections. Many bicyclists ride through the lanes of cars to get to the front of the intersection, so they can go first. This is against the law and extremely dangerous. Those commuting to work should not do this for any reason. Most drivers are concerned about when the light is going to turn green opposed to looking at what is around them. Usually, drivers cannot see the cyclists when they make their way up to the front of the intersection and often do not see them when they are making left turns. Therefore, cyclists should stay in the line of cars and clearly signal to indicate their presence.
It is also important that cyclists know the laws of the road and what does and does not apply to them. Too often are cyclists involved in collisions because they are not following traffic signs and signals. Cyclists are no more above the law than drivers, and can be the ones at fault for the accident even though they using the smaller mode of transportation.
What Cars Should Do
As a driver, you should always be paying attention to your surroundings. More and more people are taking their bikes to work and ditching the traditional vehicle, and this phenomenon is something that drivers need to start taking notice of. Not every city has bike lanes, so it sometimes becomes difficult to share the road with cyclists. Austin does have dedicated bike lanes, however, especially on the major roadways. One thing that drivers often underestimate is cycle speed. Bikes have become increasingly more fast in the past few years and drivers have not taken notice. Many bicycle/car accidents occur when drivers think that they can go around the cyclist, when in fact the cyclist is not going as slow as they had originally thought. Drivers need to take extra caution with bikers because their vehicle is so much larger than a bicycle and can severely or fatally wound a bicyclist in an accident.
Contact an Experienced Austin Bike Accident Attorney
Bicyclists and drivers are both responsible for watching the road and keeping them safe for themselves and for others. These accidents are serious and can drastically change lives. If you and someone you know has been in an accident consisting of a bicycle and a car, and are seeking legal counsel, contact Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP so that our Austin accident attorneys can work to get you the compensation you deserve.
If you have been the victim of a bicycle accident, feel free to contact us Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP.