Bicycle riders faced an increase in fatalities from 2011 to 2012. According to recent reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 726 bicycle riders killed over the course of the year. An additional 49,000 bike riders were injured in collisions. The death toll rose six percent from 2011 to 2012. The majority of the bicyclist deaths– 69 percent– occurred in urban areas.
Bike riders in urban locations, as well as throughout the rest of the country, have been fighting to improve conditions and reduce fatalities. While The Burg News indicates that Harrisburg is far behind Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in terms of being bike-friendly, advocates from Bike Harrisburg have been promoting and encouraging improvements in road conditions for riders.
Recently, however, bicycle activists nationwide have been getting negative press as some claim that bike riders don’t actually obey the rules or share the road in a fair way.
When a bicycle accident happens, it is important to determine if the biker or the driver were following the rules of the road and if either were negligent. A personal injury attorney can provide assistance to bike accident victims in determining who was to blame for the collision and who is liable for damages.
Are Bicycle Riders Failing at Sharing the Road?
The Washington Post has had several recent articles about the problems of bicycle riders in urban areas. A litany of complaints includes:
- Bicycle riders being overly-demanding about where bicycle lanes should go, resulting in bike lanes displacing some parking spaces and making it more difficult to park in popular areas.
- Bicycle riders disobeying the laws and riding on sidewalks, endangering pedestrians.
- Bicycle riders riding at night without lights on so they are difficult for pedestrians and drivers to see.
- Bicycle riders riding their bikes in the wrong direction in a bicycle lane.
- Bicycle riders moving to the front of a line of cars waiting at a light and then holding up traffic by driving slowly along when the light changes as motorists are left waiting for a chance to pass.
- Bicycle riders riding during high-traffic areas during rush hour and getting in the way of motorcycle riders.
- Bicycle riders failing to obey the rules of the road even when they demand that they be given the same respect and held to the same rules as other drivers.
These are complaints that have been voiced by many motorists who have had experience with bicycle riders in urban areas. While some of the complaints may be legitimate, the reality is that biking is becoming a more popular way to commute and some drivers are simply unhappy that bike riders are disrupting long-standing traffic patterns.
Bicycle riders and drivers both need to be respectful of each other and need to follow all safety rules. This means yielding the right-of-way as required, drivers avoiding passing too close to bicycle riders and bike riders staying in bike lanes where they belong and not endangering pedestrians on sidewalks.
If everyone on the roads follows the rules and is aware of the rights of others on the road, perhaps the complaints against bicycle riders could stop and the death toll of pedalcyclists could be reduced.
Central Pennsylvania’s premier accident and injury law firm, Metzger Wickersham, has offices in Wilkes-Barre, Pottsville, York, Lancaster, Shippensburg, and Harrisburg, PA. Contact Metzger Wickersham at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 (946-9461) or visit www.mwke.com for a free case evaluation.