Americans are using bicycles to commute, for exercise, or just to get some fresh air and move around now more than ever before. Even in Houston where we love our big trucks and SUVs, there has been an increase in cyclists on our streets and roadways. That’s partly because we have over 1,800 miles of bike trails and paths and that number is growing every year. While many riding on bikes, especially those new to cycling, may fall on their own and get hurt, the more serious and more common cause of bicycle accidents is a collision with a car or other motor vehicle. So, before you and your friends or family head out on an open-air adventure, be sure to learn more about the common causes of bicycle accidents in Houston.
Bicycles on the Road
Under Texas Transportation Code §551.101, bicycle riders on the roadway are considered the same as vehicles and thus have the same rights but also the same legal responsibilities as those who drive motor vehicles. Despite this, most drivers are unfamiliar with the laws related to sharing the roads with bikers or that cyclists have the same rights motorists do. That being said, bicycles are just smaller and harder to see, making them easy fodder for distracted drivers and those who are speeding to negligently or recklessly hit with their vehicles.
Four Common Factors Contributing to Bicycle Accidents
- Visibility: Bicycles are small and hard to see but motorists should be looking out for them. Most bicyclists’ deaths occur between 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm when visibility becomes less due to nightfall. Urban areas, which are more crowded with buildings, signage, and other items that block a driver’s sight path, also see disproportionately more bicycle accidents (78%) than rural areas.
- Distractions: Distracted driving only continues to become a more significant and dangerous problem with each passing year. Whether it’s talking to other passengers, putting on makeup, or looking down at a mobile phone, drivers are just more distracted when behind the wheel now than ever before.
- Road and Weather Conditions: Sometimes you go out biking and it starts raining or sometimes you are riding along and realize the road you’re on isn’t well paved. Road conditions and weather conditions can definitely affect and/or contribute to bicycle accidents. Inclement weather, like sleet, ice, snow, and heavy rain, commonly causes bike accidents as do potholes, sewer grates, loose gravel, poorly lit roads, and railroad crossings, among other road conditions.
- Failure To Obey Traffic Laws: If a driver or a biker fails to yield when the rules of the road require it, the results can be catastrophic. In addition, unsafe lane changes, driving too close to bike lanes, and turning without looking for cyclists are also very dangerous. Furthermore, speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, and following too closely behind a bicycle create extremely perilous roadway situations.
Types of Bicycle Accidents
While you may think the scenarios for a bicycle versus motor vehicle accident are relatively limited, they can be more varied than you realize. Three common types of bicycle accidents related to the positioning of either the bike or a vehicle include:
- Dooring (or “door prize”) accidents: These occur when a cyclist runs into a parked car’s door that is opened out into the bike path or bike lane.
- Right cross: When a car pulls out of a side street, alley, driveway, parking lot, or other such area and exits to the cyclist’s right side, it can hit the bike if the driver fails to keep a proper lookout.
- Rear-ending: Whether a driver is distracted, not paying sufficient attention, or driving aggressively, cars commonly rear-end bikes, with catastrophic results.
- Sideswiping: When a driver doesn’t leave enough space between their lane and the bicycle lane, their vehicle can sideswipe a bike.
- Blindspot accidents: Many drivers do not remember to pay attention to their vehicle’s blind spots and miss seeing the much smaller bicycles that may be hidden there.
Houston Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Drivers and bicyclists should be aware of the common causes of bicycle accidents and work to ensure their safety and that of those around them. Our Houston bicycle accident attorneys will collect the information needed to evaluate and investigate your situation and we will review all of your legal options with you so that you exactly know what to expect each step of the way. Having legal representation will enable an experienced lawyer to handle all communications with any insurance companies involved on your behalf and work toward securing financial compensation for your bike accident. For more information on how we can help you and your family, contact us online or call us at (713) 863-7100 today.