BICYCLING ACCIDENTS IN COLORADOAs a former professional road cyclist in College, I know all about bicycle accidents and crashes. I have been in my share of crashes, mostly in competitive races. From experience, I can sympathize with cycling injuries. The United States is not the most friendly bicycle country in the world. Many accidents occur due to inattentive, distracted and angry drivers. Drivers do not want to wait a few seconds to pass a cyclist as everyone is in such a hurry. Drivers are stressed and anxious so a bicyclist in the roadway causes them anger and frustration. In Europe and other countries, bicycles are a part of everyday life. If you go to Amsterdam or other Scandinavian countries, you will find that bicycles are really the main method of transportation. Thus, everyone is on the look out for cyclists.
Colorado is basically a more friendly state than most states in our country. Many top professional cyclists live in Boulder, Colorado and throughout our mountain towns, as well. Boulder is the home of top professional cyclists like Taylor Phinney and TJ VanGarderen. These two cyclists are among many in Boulder and they compete in the greatest bicycle race in the world, the Tour de France. Colorado is ranked as one of the top states in our country for fitness. Thus, you see people here everyday riding bicycles, running and hiking. Colorado is one of the fittest states in the US.
Recently, in 2019, an ex-professional road cyclist was run over and left for dead. Andrew Bernstein, age 34 was struck from behind by a hit and run driver. According to the Colorado Sun, more cyclists have been killed in recent years than ever before. The investigating police officers had little evidence to go on, just a small piece of the car. They surmised that the vehicle may have been a Dodge Utility Van. This is a frequent occurrence with bicycling: a car or other type vehicle runs over a bicyclist and flees the scene. In 2018, 22 bicyclists were killed by angry or distracted drivers.
HOW CAN BICYCLISTS PREVENT ACCIDENTS?
There are some basic rules that all cyclists should follow:
1. Obey all traffic rules.
Just because you are on a bicycle does not mean that you can run stop signs and red lights. Bicyclists should obey all rules of the road, just as if they were driving a vehicle. I frequently notice bicyclists running stop signs or failing to yield the right of way. When a vehicle is moving towards you, in a bicycle vs. car scenario, the vehicle always wins!
- Make sure that you ride with traffic, not against traffic.
- Stay as far right as possible and preferably ride on a designated shoulder so that you are not directly in the roadway. I always ride as far to the right as possible in order to avoid being hit from behind.
- Avoid pedestrians and give the right of way to pedestrians and joggers anywhere that you can.
- Use the special bicycle lights in the front and rear of your bicycle. This will make you much more visible to motorists, in the day and night. Along this line of thought, it is best to wear bright colored clothing so that you are more visible to passing motorists. I always cycle in bright colors and a neon green helmet. You can see me coming at a great distance.
- Avoid the use of headphones as these can be distracting. Headphones with music blaring can prevent you from hearing the everyday noises of traffic.
- Make sure your bicycle has the proper tire pressure and has enough tread life for a successful ride. You don’t want to lose control of your bicycle while riding in traffic due to a punctured tire. Along those lines, make sure your bicycle is properly maintained. You should have good brakes that work properly and a chain that runs smoothly. All of these maintenance issues can prevent an accident due to negligent maintenance. It is also good to wash your bike weekly and after rain or a dirty road. A clean bicycle will help you notice any mechanical problems with your bicycle.
2. Don’t fight with vehicle drivers.
Typically, a driver may honk the horn or even yell profanities at bicyclists. It is important that cyclists remain calm and not to fight back with vehicle drivers. Just let it go and continue on your ride. Some drivers have guns in their cars so you would not want to fight with someone. I was riding in Texas and a local redneck decided that he was going to try to run me off the road with his truck. It was a scary situation as a bicycle is no match for a large vehicle. I simply remained calm and pulled over onto the grass. In that situation, I am sure that the cowboy had a gun so I did not want to antagonize him.
3. Be careful with weather hazards.
By this I mean that one should be extra careful when riding early when the sun is just coming up. The sun can block drivers’ vision. Rain can cause extra hazards like skidding and reduced visibility. Snow and ice create their own problems as it can be very difficult to keep proper traction while trying to ride on an icy or snow covered road. Additionaly, cyclists should dress well for weather conditions. Rain jackets and eyewear for raining days and for cold days make sure you have shoe covers, and adequate gloves and jackets.
4. Always wear a certified Helmet.
I remember when I first started racing bicycles in the 1980’s and no one even wore a helmet. During that time period, they came out with these leather helmets that just had strips of leather on top. So, if you crashed, you essentially had no real head protection. Technology developed over the years and now we have the best bicycle helmets that have ever been made. Spend the money for a good helmet as that is what will protect your brain during a hard impact. Many cyclists have died due to not wearing a helmet. Just like motorcyclists, helmets can save your life.
5. Bring a cell phone.
If you have an accident, a cell phone may be very useful so that you can call an Ambulance or your family. You can also periodically make stops and text your family members your location. You should also take a driver’s license with you so that you can be identified by first responders. Road ID is another great safety device that you wear around your wrist. Road ID has your name, address, phone number and blood type. This can be very useful if you are in an accident and lose consciousness.
HERE ARE SOME TYPICAL WAYS THAT BICYCLISTS BECOME INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT SITUATION:
- Car stops at stop sign and does not wait his turn and proceeds through intersection into bicyclist*Motorist runs into the rear of cyclist
- Bicyclist runs into parked car door when riding to close to parked vehicles.
- Driver turns in front of bicyclist and causes accident. Does not judge proper speed of cyclist.
- Motorist turns right and collides with cyclist. Cyclist may be going straight and not turning right.
- Similarly, driver turns right at red light and collides with bicycle.
- Bicyclist rides out of driveway or side road and does not see approaching vehicle.
- Bicyclist does not obey traffic signals and rides out into busy traffic
- Bicyclist rides the wrong way, into oncoming traffic instead of riding with the flow of traffic.
- Bicyclist enters roadway without yielding to traffic
- Bicyclist turns left or right without using hand signals
- Bicyclist rides on sidewalk which is primarily meant for pedestrians
- Bicyclist rides intoxicated or with drugs in his or her system
WHAT ARE THE COMMON INJURIES THAT ARE SUFFERED BY BICYCLISTS?
Common injuries sustained by bicyclists are:
1: Road Rash
2: Fractured bones
3: Head and brain injuries
4: Loss of limbs
5: Punctured Lungs and other organs
6: Neck and spinal injuries
7: Loss of consciousness
8: Bleeding on the brain
If you are involved in any type of bicycle or cycling accident and have been injured due to the fault of another, please call me now. I am very experienced in bicycle cases and have 22 years of experience handling only accident cases. As a former pro cyclist, I know the injuries that cyclists sustain. I have personally had hip surgery, 2 elbow surgeries, piriformis syndrome surgery and multiple rib fractures, all due to bicycle crashes. I can understand your pain better than anyone and can better describe the accident and injuries to the insurance company adjusters. Choose me as your bicycle attorney.
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