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Bicycle versus auto accidents on the rise

In many ways, California exemplifies modern car culture with its system of modern freeways and parking facilities. Although most Californians cannot imagine life without a car, more and more people are using bicycles for daily transportation, exercise and recreation. Unfortunately, many drivers have not yet learned how to safely share the road with bicycles and this puts cyclists at risk for serious injury or death.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic fatalities involving bicycles increased nine percent between 2010 and 2011. In California, 4.1 percent of all traffic fatalities involved a pedalcyclist, compared to the national average of two percent. The 2011 NHTSA report also shows the following:

  • 677 U. S. pedalcyclist fatalities
  • 48,000 U. S. pedalcyclist injuries
  • 114 California pedalcyclist fatalities

Most fatal bike accidents — 69 percent — occurred in an urban area, and while the highest injury rate was among those between the ages of 16 and 20, the group with the highest fatality rate were pedacyclists aged 45 to 54. Bikes are increasingly part of city transportation and they are not just for kids anymore.

Getting adequate compensation for an injury after a motor vehicle hits you on your bicycle requires the services of an experienced bicycle injury attorney who can perform a thorough investigation of the accident scene and help you recover damages for the full extent of your injuries.

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Bicycle safety tips

Not only is bicycling better for the environment than driving, it is a great form of exercise as well. However, with so many cars on the road these days, bicycling can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Consider the tips listed below for staying safe on your bicycle:

  • Maintain your bike and gear. Make sure your bike has head and rear lights if you are riding at night, along with fully functioning brakes and a mirror. Also, wear a helmet at all times.
  • Signal if you intend to turn. Never turn left without putting your arm straight out to signal.
  • Ride further left. Some bikers think hugging the curb is safer, but riding further to the left can help you avoid several types of accidents. For example, if you are too far to the right side of the street you can easily be struck by an opening door or a car pulling into the street from a parking spot. You also make yourself less visible to cars pulling out from a side street or parking lot on your right.
  • Don’t ride on the sidewalk. Riding on the sidewalk is illegal in most major cities. And not just because it’s annoying for pedestrians — it’s also unsafe. When you have to cross a street and are coming from the sidewalk, you are invisible to motorists.
  • Avoid fast traffic. Drivers have less time to react and are more distracted by bicyclists on busy, fast roads. And cyclists are more in danger of collisions as well. Take side streets and slower roads when possible.

Don’t let the possibility of a bike accident deter you from enjoying the many wonderful benefits that come along with bicycling. With proper bicycle maintenance, concentration on the road, and an awareness and respect for the laws, your chances of being involved in an accident are greatly reduced. But if you are hit by a negligent driver, seek legal advice from an experienced attorney in Aurora Grande, San Luis Obispo County or elsewhere in California.