Safety & Cycling In Maryland
With the world’s growing concern over polar ice caps, the ozone layer, and air pollution, it is no wonder that many folks are adapting their lifestyles to build a cleaner environment. Companies and individuals alike are doing their part to help create a better tomorrow and a greener world. Green initiatives range from making recycling a way of life, to using energy saving appliances, to simply reusing grocery bags. Even the smallest of efforts goes a long way when it comes to environmental consciousness, however, some lifestyle changes have proven more dangerous than expected. Many adults have parked their cars in exchange for pedals and bicycle helmets. Unfortunately, city planning has not kept up with the number of new bicyclists on the road, leading to many injured cyclists.
The Problem With Pedaling
As the Journal of the American Medical Association recently reported, over the past fifteen years there has been a dramatic increase in bicycle-related injuries. In fact, between 1998 and 2013 hospital admissions resulting from bicycle accidents nearly doubled. The group most at risk of bicycle injuries are those over the age of forty five. While child fatalities resulting from bicycling has dramatically decreased, deaths among those aged 35-54 has tripled within the past forty years.
The studies have identified several reasons why these injuries and fatalities are happening at such a higher rate than in the past. For one, more Americans are becoming more health-conscious and are adjusting their lifestyles accordingly. Another reason many are hopping on bikes is to adjust to growing concerns over air pollution. Without a doubt, the biggest increase in bicyclists are among those who are over 45 years old. Because a middle-aged adult will suffer a more severe injury than a young adult, even when the impact is the same, an increased number of older riders leads to an increased number of injured riders. As most travel routes (highways, roads, side streets) are designed for travel by car or truck, it is no surprise that bicyclists often face dangers in traffic. The lack of safety features offered from an enclosed vehicle also prevents a serious risk of injury.
Safety Tips for Cyclists
Bicycling is a fun, healthy, and environmentally friendly way to get from one place to another. However, the roads can be a dangerous place for bicyclists, and accidents can have significant consequences. Often, the worst accidents involve a collision between an automobile driver and a bicycle. For example, University of Maryland wide receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro recently collided with a bus and suffered from a concussion. However, accidents with vehicles can often result in even more severe injuries.
Here are some important bicycling safety tips:
- Wear a helmet. It is important that the bicycle helmet fits properly. A helmet that is loose-fitting or tilted back does not offer as much protection in the event of a fall.
- Ride with traffic, not against it. Just like cars, bicycles are required to obey all the rules of the road such as stopping at red lights and stop signs.
- If you are riding in a group, ride single file or no more than two abreast. Riding in a wide line increases the chances of an automobile collision and could cause a chain reaction.
- Don’t ride on the sidewalk. Except in places where local ordinance allows biking on the sidewalk, Maryland law requires bicyclists to bike on the road.
- Avoid busy streets. Some of the most dangerous bicycle accidents are those where bicycles collide with vehicles. If you don’t need to travel on a busy street, it may be safer to take a back road.
- Stay alert and practice defensive cycling. A vehicle may not see you or may not be paying attention, but if you react defensively you may be able to avoid an accident.
Safe bicycling is important for two reasons. First and most importantly, a safe bicyclist is less likely to suffer from an accident than an unsafe bicyclist. Secondly, if an accident does occur, a safe bicyclist may be able to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit more easily than a bicyclist who was not following the law.
In Maryland, violation of a law (such as a bicyclist not following traffic rules or riding on the sidewalk) can be evidence of negligence. Because Maryland has a state law of contributory negligence, recovery can be difficult for the victim of a bicycling accident who may have been negligent. Contributory negligence means that a plaintiff, such as a bicyclist who has been involved in an accident, cannot recover damages from a defendant if the plaintiff is even one percent at fault for the accident. Many other states have a comparative negligence doctrine, which instead allows negligent plaintiffs to recover some damages if the defendant is also negligent.
As a practical matter, this means that bicyclists should be as careful as possible in order to avoid accidents at all costs and, if an accident with a vehicle does occur, to maximize the possibility that they can recover personal injury damages from the driver.
Injuries disrupt our daily lives and often result in stressful recoveries. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury while bicycling, you may be entitled to compensation. We are here to help. Contact our team today to discuss your injuries and get the help you need.
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