Articles Posted in Bicycle Safety

Riding a bicycle is a great form of transportation—it’s cost-efficient, environmentally friendly, and a great form of exercise. However, Maryland residents who ride bicycles—whether it be to work every day or just occasionally to get some fresh air—should always practice safe biking habits and be aware of other drivers on the road. Bicycle accidents can occur in the blink of an eye and cause serious injury, or even death. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2018, 857 bicyclists were killed in crashes in the United States. As you might expect, when a crash occurs between a bicycle and any other vehicle, it is almost always only the cyclist who ends up being injured. But a large percentage of crashes can be avoided if cyclists follow the rules of the road and practice safe biking.

There are several ways cyclists can protect themselves before even heading out on the bicycle. The first way is one of the most important: wearing a helmet. But not just any helmet will do—it is equally important that a cyclist wears a properly fitted helmet that can actually protect them if they were to be in a crash. The sizing of helmets can vary from one manufacturer to the next, so before heading out on a ride with a brand-new helmet, take the time to accurately fit it to make sure that it’s snug and ready to protect you if the worst-case scenario occurs. In addition to wearing a helmet, cyclists can also protect themselves before even getting on the bicycle by wearing clothing that makes them more visible to others, tucking in shoelaces and pant legs, so they do not get caught in the bike chain, and planning their route to ride on bike lanes or bike paths whenever possible.

While biking, there are some additional steps that a cyclist can take to avoid a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages bikers to ride defensively and predictably. Defensively means being focused on the road and the traffic around you, so that you may notice a potential hazard or another vehicle early on and act quickly to avoid a crash. To ride defensively, drive with the flow of traffic, obey all street signs, signals, and road markings, avoid distractions, and keep a sharp eye out for hazards and potentially dangerous situations. On the other hand, Riding predictably means riding consistently, so other vehicles have a sense of what you intend to do. Additionally, it means riding where other vehicles might expect you to be—riding on the sidewalk may cause crashes, for example, because drivers in cars do not look at the sidewalk when looking to see if a turn is safe for them to make.

The concept of bike-shares has exploded across the country, with most large cities having a bike-share program. Bike-shares are generally seen as a good alternative to public transportation because they allow riders to rent bikes from one of many locations across the city and return the bike to any location near the rider’s destination. Some cities, including Washington, D.C. have gone a step beyond the traditional bike-share concept, and have implemented electronic bike-shares.

Not surprisingly, some critics of the electric bike-share concept argue that bike-shares increase the number of Washington, D.C. traffic accidents. These concerns are based mostly on the fear that electric bike-shares allow inexperienced users to operate machines that, when misused, could very easily result in serious injury to the rider, as well as to pedestrians and other motorists. However, as a recent article indicates, there is also the concern that the electric bikes themselves pose a danger to riders.

According to a recent news report, the company Motivate, which is a subsidiary of the popular ride share company, Lyft, has recalled approximately 15% of its electric bikes. A spokesperson for the company explained that the recall was based on reports that riders who tapped the brakes experienced a stronger-than-anticipated force, causing riders to fall. In some cases, riders were sent over the handlebars of the bike. Interestingly, the manufacturer of the brakes has released a statement indicating that the problem was not with the braking components, raising the question that the problem may have to do with how the brakes were installed on the bikes.

Maryland motorists have a duty to ensure the safe operation of their vehicle at all times. However, given the high rates of distracted driving and aggressive driving, Maryland car accidents involving bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists continue to remain at an unacceptably high level.

Indeed, in 2017 alone there were approximately 500 people serious injury and over 110 killed in Maryland pedestrian accidents. That same year there were over 75 fatal Maryland motorcycle accidents, more than half of which involved at least one car or truck. According to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, “in a crash between a car and a motorcycle, the car driver is more likely to be at fault than the motorcyclist.”

Under current Maryland law, a motorist who strikes a motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian with their vehicle is subject to a fine of up to $500 and a mandatory court appearance. However, practically speaking, most motorists are able to send in advance payment of a $110 fine and can avoid the court appearance altogether. Some state lawmakers rightfully believe that this lets those who cause these accidents off the hook too easily and have proposed a bill to increase certain penalties.

Maryland is a state that values higher education. Indeed, according to the most recent data, there are over 50 colleges across Maryland. Bicycles have long been the preferred method of travel for budget-conscious college students, especially in colleges and universities in large urban centers such as Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Thus, it isn’t surprising that many Maryland bicycle accidents occur on or around college campuses.

For the most part, colleges do a good job ensuring that bike travel on campus is safe. This means providing bike lanes, signage, and driver education about the presence of bicyclists and how to safely drive in an area where there is a large population of bicyclists. However, despite these efforts, Maryland bicycle accidents continue to occur.

When a bicyclist is injured in a Maryland bicycle accident, they can pursue a claim for compensation against one or more parties. Generally, this includes the driver that struck them, as well as any other potentially liable party such as the college or university, the driver’s employer, or another motorist that was involved in the collision. However, it is essential that an injured bicyclist understand Maryland’s strict contributory negligence laws and how they can preclude an injured cyclist from recovering for their injuries.

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One of the most important lessons children are taught when learning how to ride a bicycle is the importance of always wearing a helmet. While it is impossible to determine exactly how effective helmets are at preventing serious injuries, bicycle helmets are estimated to save thousands of lives per year. In addition, helmets reduce the chance of a rider sustaining a serious head injury in the event of a Maryland bicycle accident.

While the importance of bicycle helmets cannot be overstated, a recent trend concerning the prevalence of counterfeit bicycle helmets is very alarming. According to a recent news report by National Public Radio, counterfeit helmets are often manufactured outside the United States and sold through online retailers. Counterfeit helmets may look very similar to their name-brand counterparts, however, the protection provided by counterfeit helmets pales in comparison.

The U.S. government, as well as helmet manufactures, have taken up the fight to eliminate counterfeit helmets from the marketplace. Also, some online retailers have developed technology to weed out counterfeits.

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Given the state of today’s technology, one hardly has to go a single minute without having access to their music. Indeed, on any given day it is common to see people with their headphones in while engaged in a wide variety of activities including running, walking their dog, riding on public transportation, shopping and riding their bike. And while this unrestrained access to media provides comfort for many, it can also be dangerous.

According to a recent news report, bicyclists are being warned not to ride with large noise-cancelling headphones. The article discusses the death of a 30-year-old investment banker who was run over by a bus while he was riding his bike while wearing over-the-ear headphones.

Experts explained that it is important for bicyclists to be able to hear – and not just see – their surroundings, and that having headphones in while riding prevents bicyclists from taking in much of the surrounding noise. These experts argue that this may result in a situation where a bicyclist is involved in an accident that they may have otherwise been able to avoid. If you were injured while riding a bicycle, contact a Maryland bicycle accident attorney to discuss your options.

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Just as learning how to ride a bike is one of the most memorable milestones in any child’s life, it is also seen as a parental rite of passage. And while one of the most important aspects of teaching a child to ride a bike is imparting the importance of bicycle safety, some accidents cannot be avoided.In fact, Maryland bicycle accidents injure, on average, about 67,000 riders per year and result in over 700 fatalities annually. Studies have shown that child riders account for a significant number of both the fatal and the non-fatal bicycle accidents. Most of these accidents occur close to the child’s home, often on their own street.

Motorists have a duty to avoid causing a bicycle accident. This includes following all traffic laws, paying attention to the road in front of them, and yielding to bicyclists when appropriate. When a motorist causes a bicycle accident, they may be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result of their negligence.

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Teaching a child to ride a bike can be a rewarding experience for both the child and the adult. However, bicycle safety is a critical component of learning to ride a bike and should never be overlooked. Not only is it important to teach children always wear a helmet, but also to follow the rules of the road and to always be aware of drivers that may not be paying attention.

According to a recent news report based on a study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy, Maryland bicycle accidents involving children may be more common than most people believe. Evidently, nationwide there are there are about 608 bicycle-related injuries per day, which comes out to about 25 accidents per hour.

Of course, most of these accidents are minor. In fact, the top reported injury types were bruises, scrapes, and cuts. However, a very significant 11% of all child bicycle accidents resulted in a traumatic brain injury. Unsurprisingly, when a motor vehicle is involved in the accident, the chance of the child suffering a traumatic brain injury greatly increases.

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The death of a loved one is tragic. In Maryland motor vehicle crashes, the party at fault for the crash should be held responsible for their actions. The wrongful death statute in Maryland allows certain family members to recover compensation after the family members’ death. The purpose of the statute is “to compensate the families of the decedents, as opposed to the estates of the decedents.” Therefore, a wrongful death claim is a separate claim that can be brought by the decedent’s family.

The law allows for certain beneficiaries to file a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit. Primary beneficiaries are defined as the spouses, parents, or children of the deceased person. If no primary beneficiaries exist, Maryland law permits secondary beneficiaries to pursue a claim. A secondary plaintiff is any other person related to the deceased person by blood or marriage who was wholly dependent on the decedent.

In order to prove liability, a plaintiff must show that the defendant’s wrongful act resulted in their loved one’s death. Under the statute, a wrongful act is an “act, neglect, or default including a felonious act which would have entitled the injured party to maintain an action and recover damages” if the person had not died. Plaintiffs may recover damages for not only pecuniary losses but also pain and suffering, loss of companionship, parental care, guidance, and more.

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In August, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a preliminary report of an investigation into a motor vehicle accident that killed five bicyclists and injured four others. According to the report, nine cyclists in Michigan were riding in a four-foot-wide roadway shoulder when a pickup truck veered off the road and plowed into them from behind. In addition to the report, local news organizations have reported that the driver of the pickup truck is being charged with both second-degree murder and operating a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating pain medications and muscle relaxants.

The NTSB is a federal agency charged with investigating rail, air, and automobile crashes. According to a recent article, the agency chose to investigate the bicycling accident, due to an uptick in cycling on public roadways. The article also states that in 2013, over 900 bicyclists were killed in cycling accidents, and nearly 500,000 were treated for injuries in hospital emergency rooms. The NTSB last studied crashes involving cyclists in the early 1970s.

Bicycling Accidents on Maryland Roads

In Maryland, motor vehicle drivers owe bicyclists and pedestrians a duty of care while driving. This means that they must drive as a reasonable driver would under the same or similar circumstances. A failure to take such care is called negligence. Drivers who commit negligence may be liable for damages to injured bicyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers and their passengers.

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