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Summertime brings higher risk of bicycle accident injuries

Bicyclists can suffer catastrophic injuries if they are struck by inattentive, drunk or speeding drivers.

Traveling by bicycle is a pollution-free, healthy, efficient and all-around fun means of transportation. Riding a bike lets you breathe in the fresh summer air, work on your tan and do something good for your body all at the same time. Clearly, there are many positives associated with bicycling. On the flip side of the proverbial coin, though, there are also dangers.

When bicyclists are struck by inattentive, intoxicated, reckless, speeding or distracted drivers, their bodies can take a real beating. Unlike in a two-car accident, where the occupants of both vehicles are protected by thousands of pounds of metal framing, a car-versus- bicycle accident causes the entire force of the collision to be absorbed by the bicyclist himself (or herself). This can lead to catastrophic injuries like:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Broken bones
  • Serious lacerations
  • "Road rash"

Recent news stories across the country demonstrate that, as warmer weather has finally arrived, bicycle and pedestrian accidents have been on the rise. This is not to say that bicycling and safety aren't compatible, just that both drivers and bikers need to take some precautions to ensure that they can safely share the roadway.

For drivers

The main thing that drivers need to keep in mind is that bicycles much easier thread through slow traffic, and a bike might be in one of the car's "blind spots" at any given time. Hence, drivers should proceed with caution when leaving parking lots, turning at stoplights, entering or exiting driveways and when opening doors.

A number of car-versus-bicycle accidents each year are so-called "doorings" where a vehicle occupant opens their car door into the path of a bicyclist. This can cause the bicyclist to either crash into the door and flip over the handlebars or fall over trying to avoid the obstruction, both of which can easily cause serious injury.

Of course, not driving while distracted or under the influence of alcohol, as well as obeying speed limits, following traffic laws and remaining attentive will all make the roads safer for cars and bicyclists alike.

For bicyclists

Those riding bicycles have the same rights - and responsibilities - as vehicle operators do on Connecticut roadways. The state, through its Share the Road campaign, aims to increase awareness on the part of bikers and drivers by offering safety tips, a "refresher" on relevant state laws and other relevant information designed to help keep the roads safe for all users.

In addition to being aware of applicable state traffic and transportation laws, bicyclists can lessen their chances of being involved in an accident by:

  • Wearing bright or reflective clothing
  • Staying to the right of the roadway
  • Riding with traffic instead of against it
  • Wearing a well-fitting helmet and other safety gear
  • Using proper hand signals
  • Having working headlights
  • Not being distracted by electronic devices or under the influence

No matter how careful you may be as a cyclist, it is possible you could be involved in an accident. If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries after a bicycle accident, speak with a personal injury attorney to learn more about your legal rights and options.

Keywords: bicycle accident, cyclist accident