Bicycle riders and bike lane crash risk

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Like all Americans, residents of North Carolina are being urged to improve public health by adopting more active lifestyles, including biking and walking—instead of driving all the time, no matter how short the distance to be covered. With the increasing numbers of cyclists on the road come increasing numbers of accidents and crashes. The chances of crashes with motorvehicles increase for those walking and bicycling, according to acs.ncsu.edu.

 

Each year in North Carolina, approximately 1,000 bicyclists are involved in police-reported crashes with motor vehicles—and those are only the reported cases. They include approximately 20 fatalities and 60 serious injuries. Sadly, children and young adults are the most frequent victims. North Carolina law defines a bicycle as a vehicle, meaning that generally bike riders have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists.

 

Some people erroneously believe that it’s safer to ride a bicycle on the road facing, or against, oncoming traffic. Wrong-way cycling is a leading cause of collisions between bicyclists and motor traffic, according to bikelaw.com.

 

Is it safer to ride your bicycle in designated bike lanes? The jury is still out on that question. North Carolina does not require bicyclists to use bike lanes when they are available. Bike lanes can be unsafe when motorists don’t understand how to drive near them. Sometimes it’s safer to avoid the bike lane, advises bikelaw.com:

 

  • The more intersections and parking lot entrances along the road, the more reasons not to use the bike lane.
  • Cyclists riding far to the right of a lane are less visible to oncoming cars turning left across their paths.
  • Motor vehicle drivers often don’t even notice the bicyclist in the bike lane.

* Others don’t seem to understand that it’s dangerous to cut the cyclist off by turning right immediately in his or her path.

  • Motorists treat cyclists like pedestrians, who move more slowly, and wrongly expect bike riders to be able to react and stop instantly.

 

Before you opt for cycling in a bike lane, be sure to evaluate: How fast is traffic moving? How wide is the bike lane? Will you be passing parked cars whose doors might open suddenly? Above all, where will I be most visible? That’s where you should ride.

 

Richard Manger, principal of Manger Law Firm, has extensive experience in litigation and settlements, with a focus on personal injury and workers’ compensation law. We are proud of the strong relationships of loyalty and trust we develop with our clients. We go above and beyond to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. You can contact Richard Manger via email at ram@mangerlaw.com, or by calling (336) 882-2000.

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