Riding a bicycle is an exuberant activity that all ages can enjoy. Schoolchildren ride bikes to get to and from school and visit friends. College students tool around campus to get to and from class and to their dorms or apartments. Families enjoy riding bikes together on warm, spring days. Riding a bike provides a practical activity for adults who want to improve their health and reduce their carbon footprints.
However, biking is a potentially dangerous activity that can occur at any age. Statistics bear out this observation. The Federal Highway Administration released a study in February 2014 that pointed to the hazards for both pedestrians and bicyclists, and the statistics are staggering.
While bicycles account for only one percent of all trips taken in the United States, bicyclists still face a higher rate of crash-related injuries and deaths than motorists and their passengers. According to the Centers for Disease Controls, nearly 800 bicyclists died in the United States in 2010, and represented close to 515,000 visits to emergency rooms that same year. Most deaths for bike rides occur in urban areas and not at intersections. These are the very same roads that your child rides daily, to and from school and to visit their friends.
Despite the injuries that occur, does that mean you should stop riding your bike to work, on errands or for recreation? Absolutely not. We learned bicycle safety at an early age, including walking bikes across intersections and riding our bikes with the traffic. However, as safe as we may be, it’s a fact that some motorists are just plain hostile to bicyclists. They blame bike riders for hogging narrow streets, and slowing the efforts of the motorists to reach their destinations. A Los Angeles doctor took his frustrations to extremes. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge in 2010 sentenced him to five years in prison for assaulting two bicyclists by slamming on his brakes after a confrontation on a narrow road.
You can take many steps to prevent injury and death. They include:
- Wearing helmets, which reduce the risk of head and brain injuries during crashes.
- Wearing fluorescent, white or bright colored clothing to make you more visible at a distance than regular attire during the day.
- Wearing retro-reflective clothing to appear more visible at night.
Bike riding is an activity to be enjoyed, and for the most part it’s an activity that you should continue to enjoy your health and recreation. If a motorist causes bodily harm to you or someone you know, or you face another danger through no fault of your own, consider contacting a personal-injury attorney who will be able to help you put the pieces together and settle your case quickly and effectively.