Once the weather becomes enjoyable, Connecticut's roads will become a haven for bicycle riders from the surrounding area. The rolling hills are a sought after challenge and the beautiful homes and scenery provide an unparalleled biking experience. However, for the residents who drive the roads every day, the increase in bicycle riders slows traffic and creates situations where neither party knows how to react. Nationally in 2009, over 51,000 cyclists were injured and 630 of those were killed. In Connecticut, there is an average of 289 injuries and 8 deaths every year. Fatality and injury rates in Connecticut are highest for males ages 5 to 19.
To avoid accidents and increase CT Bicycle Safety cyclists should do the following:
• Wear a light- a constant headlight is mandatory when biking on roadways at night. A flashing light during the day also makes you more visible to drivers. A light on ones head or helmet is preferable, as it can be pointed directly at a driver by looking at them.
• Get a horn- while not mandated by law, having a horn or bell on your bicycle louder than your voice could save your life in an emergency. Don't be afraid to use one.
• Slow down- if you are unsure of how a nearby driver is going to act, slow down so you can brake easier.
• Adjust your route- when approaching an intersection; it is best to shift further left in the lane. This will make you more visible to crossing cars that are not looking towards the curb for crossing traffic.
• Watch out for car doors- one of the most common types of bike accidents is running into open car doors. Ride far enough away from parked cars or slow enough to stop in time if one is swung open.
• Follow the law- make sure you comply with all laws such as helmet wearing, allowed and not allowed side walk use, and general road usage signs.
Besides being dangerous for cyclists, accidents involving bicycles create an area of liability for automobile drivers. It is relatively obvious that even minor contact of a motor vehicle and a bicycle could lead to traumatic injuries to the cyclist. The driver could be liable for such injuries, even if they are not completely at fault for the accident.
Here are a few tips to minimize your chances of injuring a cyclist:
• Reduce Speed when passing a cyclist, especially on narrow roadways.
• Do Not Honk- blasting your horn at cyclists is more likely to startle and disorient the cyclist.
• Yield Right of Way- when there is not enough room for a bicycle and the automobile to fit side by side
• Do Not Pass- if there is oncoming traffic nearby. It is also important to note that Connecticut has a three foot passing law which requires vehicles to only pass bicycles if they may do so safely and leave at least a 3 foot distance between them and the cyclist.
Even though it may require some patience, both cyclists and drivers can take steps to reduce the risk of potentially fatal accidents. Ultimately, the responsibility may fall on both parties.
To speak with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys or to schedule a free consultation, contact our office at (888) 244 -5480.