Spring Is Just Around the Corner: Tips For Bicycle Safety

The month of February is certainly not ideal for riding a bicycle, especially if you live in Chicago, but believe it or not spring is just around the corner. Our lawyers thought it would be best to keep the ball rolling with some helpful information on bicycle safety.

Some 20 million bicycles are sold each year in the United States, and during the spring and summer, Chicago is an especially bike crazed city. While it’s true that bicycles are a low impact, fun way to get and stay healthy, they are not always easy to see, especially when riding in urban areas full of blind spots and busy streets. In 2011, 677 bicyclists lost their lives in motor vehicle-bicycle traffic accidents, and another 50,000 were seriously injured. In a time of technological innovation, increased regulation, and cutting edge safety measures, bicycling is one of the few areas where we have seen a rise in total fatalities over the past few years. (League of American Bicyclists)

About 70% of these accidents occur in urban areas, and new data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims that if you are in you are a male in your mid forties or early fifties, you are especially at risk of being killed by a vehicle. Younger bicyclist, such as the 16-20 year-old demographic are the most likely group to be hit by a vehicle, but more times than not they are able to escape with only injuries. What many people don’t know is that while a significant amount of bicycle accidents require a trip to the emergency room, these visits are not tallied when determining annual totals, so the 50,000 injuries listed above represent the most severe cases among the more than 500,000 people visiting hospitals because of accidents every year. (NHTSA)

Similar to a pedestrian accident, bicyclists have no steel frame to protect their operator from the vehicles around them, and this significantly increases the potential for internal injuries. Since the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act in 1991, the federal government has been allotting more and more money for the development of cycling and walking facilities in the United States, but until all bicyclists are free from sharing pavement with vehicles, it is always important to practice the utmost caution. If you ride bikes remember to wear fluorescent and brightly colored clothing and a helmet whenever you are out riding, and think about using retro-reflective tape or a mounted light after dark. If you are a driver, little things like making sure to look out for cyclists and check your blind spots before opening doors when parked on the sides of streets can mean the difference between a good afternoon cardio exercise and a trip to the ER. These are just some of the more basic measures in preventing bicycle injuries and deaths, but they are also some of the most important.

If you or a loved one has been killed or injured due to the careless actions of another person on the road, feel free to give us a call to see how we can work for you.

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