Bicycling is becoming increasingly popular. People are enjoying bike rides with their families, riding for exercise, and biking to work as a healthy alternative to the daily commute in a car. In fact, some municipalities are experimenting with removing vehicle lanes in favor of bike lanes. Cities and community development organizations promote bicycling to work as a means of relieving parking and traffic woes in urban areas. Riders who bike to work say that it’s a pleasant way to start and end their work days. But, as the number of bicycle riders on the roads rises, so do the chances that motorists and cyclists will tangle.
If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident * due to the negligence of a motorist, it’s crucial that you contact a personal injury attorney experienced in handling such claims. Once hired, a lawyer will begin working directly with insurance companies on behalf of a client, allowing the injured victim to focus on healing.
Unlike a typical car vs. car wreck, in a car vs. bicycle crash, the cyclist is highly likely to be hurt or even killed. In a recent 10-year period (2008-2017), 78 bicyclists died in Minnesota in collisions with motor vehicles, according to the MN Department of Public Safety.
Why do these crashes happen? Bicyclists and motorists point their fingers at each other: Motorists are distracted and don’t look out for cyclists, according to cyclists. People riding bikes ignore stop signs and make turns without signaling, according to motorists.
Truth is, motorists and cyclists statistically share responsibility for crashes. Investigators have found that bicyclists are at fault for about half the crashes studied, while drivers were found at fault for the other half.
Bicyclist behaviors that contribute to crashes include being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, riding against traffic, riding without lights or reflectors at night, or failing to obey traffic signals. On the other hand, motorists hit bicyclists while driving distracted by cellphones, fiddling with the radio or environmental controls in the car, or driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
The biggest cause of bicycle-motor vehicle collisions, however, is failure to yield the right-of-way by both bicyclists and drivers. When making left- or right turns, cyclists are required by law to signal their intentions and wait their turn in traffic before making a turn. By doing so, they take an important step in protecting themselves. On the other hand, motorists must share the road by signaling their intention to turn as well and taking their turn in traffic. Failure to signal a turn or lane change by a motorist, after all, is the second-most common cause of all auto crashes after distraction.
One of the most common car-bike crashes is the “right-hook.” This happens when a car and bicycle are traveling in the same direction with the bike to the right of the car. The car makes a right-hand turn, cutting off the bicyclist who is even with, or a short distance behind, the car. The motorist may or may not signal, but, either way, the cyclist doesn’t have enough time to react before a crash.
Unsurprisingly, intersections are a primary danger zone for car-bike interaction. This is true whether the intersection is an urban roadway with a traffic signal or a place where a trail or sidewalk crosses a side street or driveway. When drivers don’t expect to meet up with a cyclist, such as when backing out of a driveway while a bicycle is traveling on a sidewalk, crashes are much more likely to occur. Rochester has banned bicycle travel on downtown sidewalks to protect pedestrians and to cut down on the possibility of bike riders entering onto streets where and when they aren’t expected.
While some motorists never ride bikes, and some bicyclists don’t own cars, many people use both means of transportation. It’s just common sense that we all accept the responsibility of keeping ourselves and others safe by looking out for each other, following the rules of the road, and being patient, predictable, and courteous to each other.
Our experienced bicycle accident attorneys understand that bicyclists are vulnerable to serious injuries in crashes. We regularly represent bike riders and focus on your optimum financial outcome. We’ve recovered well over $125 million on behalf of victims, and we are ready to assist you.
Besides Rochester, we serve the following major southeast Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, and all outlying communities, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.
*A note about language:
Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”
Bicyclists and motorists are equally responsible for bicycle safety.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety shares these tips on how bicyclists and motorists can share the road:
Rules of the Road and Safety Tips
- Bicyclists may ride on all Minnesota roads, except where restricted.
- Bicyclists should ride on the road and must ride in the same direction as traffic.
- Motorists must at all times maintain a three-foot clearance when passing a bicyclist.
- Bicyclists must obey all traffic control signs and signals, just as motorists must.
- Bicyclists must signal their turns and should ride in a predictable manner.
- Bicyclists must use a headlight and rear reflectors when it’s dark. To increase visibility, add a rear flashing light.
- Drivers must drive at safe speeds and be attentive — look for bicyclists, check blind spots.
- Drivers should use caution and look twice for riders when turning.
- Drivers should use caution when opening door upon parking on the side of the road.