Are Bike Riders at Greater Risk than Pedestrians?

As people become more aware of their impact on the environment, many are swapping out their short car rides for bike rides. Anything that’s down the street or just a few minutes away is just as easily accomplished on a bike as it is in a car. That means that there’s been a recent spike in the volume of bike riders. That also means, as a Richmond bike accident lawyer will tell you, that there’s been a spike in the number of bicycle accidents.

Stats for Bike Riders

Studies in major cities across the U.S., including Washington, D.C., show that traffic fatalities as a whole are down. But, bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities are increasing. Bicycle deaths in Washington D.C., increased by 20% from 2017 to 2018. Richmond sees the same increase in people choosing more economical or cleaner ways to get around. Unfortunately, that brings in the fear that bicyclists aren’t safe on Richmond roads.

Drive Safe Virginia has done its own study and found that in 2018 alone, there were 13 bicyclist deaths and 123 pedestrian deaths. Additionally, there were 591 cyclist injuries and 1,585 pedestrian injuries. At first blush, it seems like pedestrians are clearly at a greater risk. However, there’s more than meets the eye. Virginia has always had high volumes of pedestrians, especially through downtown areas. Bicyclists are on the rise, however, they still pale in comparison to the volume of pedestrians.

What Does “Share the Road” Mean?

You’ve probably heard the sayings like, “Click it or Ticket,” and Share the Road is among those. But what are drivers expected to do for bicyclists? The Virginia Department of Transportation has made it really easy to determine how to share the road.

First, drivers must slow down, change their course, or stop whenever necessary at crosswalks and intersections. But, pedestrians and cyclists should cross in a safe and quick manner. Drivers must also give at least 3-feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist.

Bike Lanes and Riding “With” Traffic

When it comes to what to expect from bicyclists, many drivers just aren’t sure. For example, many cyclists ride as close to the curb as possible. But, the Virginia Department of Transportation advises cyclists to “take the lane.” Meaning that the bike riders should ride in the middle of the lane with the flow of traffic. Either situation presents unexpected issues for riders.

Bike riders, unlike vehicle drivers, don’t have the ability to stop right away and don’t have the protection of a metal surrounding. Additionally, they usually don’t have mirrors to warn them of being hit from behind. Pedestrians, on the other hand, walk on sidewalks and have a full range of vision.

Bike lanes are often the best option, but they aren’t available everywhere in the city. A bike line is an indicator of where it should be safe for bike riders. It also marks out a section that is not accessible or allowable for drivers.

Then, there are “Sharrows.” A sharrow is a set of arrows with the bike lane logo placed on the road. These are often available in areas where people are told to part on the street. It should reduce the likelihood of a bike rider getting hit by someone opening a door or a car parked too far from the curb.

The issue that sharrows addresses are that bike riders often travel at speeds that pedestrians don’t. They are moving fast and can’t stop for every person who opens their car door. Whereas pedestrians can and should stop when they see something obstructing their way.

Finally, bike riders are expected to ride with traffic. Unlike pedestrians that must walk opposing traffic, riders are put in danger by not being able to see and respond to the drivers behind them. In theory, pedestrians don’t have to worry about drivers behind them because they’re all moving away rather than toward them. This rule has no grey area or explanation; it simply, exists.

Working with a Bike Accident Lawyer

Finding the right bike accident lawyer is difficult to manage. At CAIL, we help the victims of car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle crashes to recovery. Our Richmond, VA accident & injury law firm has the skills and experience necessary to build a strong case and help you fight for what you need.

Without a doubt, many car accident victims worry about how they’ll recover from the accident and if they can financially get back on their feet. When you decide to contact CAIL, you’re taking the first step towards fighting for the compensation that you deserve.