National Bike Month May 2022: Safety Tips for All Maryland Road Users
Warmer temperatures and longer days attract Maryland bicycle enthusiasts to take to the streets, paths, and trails every Spring, but there is another reason bike riding gets attention around this time of year. May is National Bike Month, an event established in 1956 by the League of American Bicyclists to highlight the benefits and encourage more people to hop on a bike for fun, exercise, and transportation. Many years later, the effects of organizers’ efforts are obvious. Bicycling has become so popular that an estimated 80 million bike riders share the road with motorized vehicles every year. National Bike Month has also become popular, drawing bicycle aficionados to participate in Bike to Work Week, Ride a Bike Day, and Bike & Roll to School Day.
Of course, there is a downside to the renewed interest in bike riding: As bicycle traffic increases, so does the potential for serious collisions. A quick glance at the size differential between the vehicles will tell you that it is the bike rider that will bear the brunt of the crash. Fortunately, Maryland personal injury laws cover crashes involving bicycles and provide victims with many of the same options as victims of other traffic-related incidents. A Baltimore bicycle accident lawyer can explain your legal remedies in more detail. Some data on the causes of crashes and safety tips should also be helpful.
Additional Statistics on Bicycle Collisions in Maryland and the US
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that almost 850 victims are killed in bicycle crashes every year. Approximately 78% are in urban areas, which should put bicycle riders in Baltimore on notice about the risks. Plus:
- The number of bike crash deaths nationwide has increased 37% in the last decade, from 793 in 2010 to 1,089 in 2019.
- In Maryland, there are an average of 830 traffic collisions involving bicycle riders annually. Of these, 86.7% cause a fatality or injuries to at least one victim.
- There are 11 fatal bicycle collisions annually, killing an equal number of riders. More than 700 victims are hurt in the 670 injury-causing bike accidents.
- Late Spring and Summer are the most dangerous times to ride your bicycle in Maryland. Almost half of all accidents take place from May to August.
- In Baltimore City, there are 220 bicycle collisions annually. Almost 80% cause injuries or a fatality.
- More than one-third of all bicycle accidents in Maryland happen during the evening rush hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Safety Tips for Bike Riders
The number one safety recommendation to protect yourself in a bicycle accident is one you have heard many times before: Wear a helmet. Doing so reduces the risk of head injuries by up to 50 percent. Additional safety tips for bicyclists fall into three categories:
1. Bicycle Accident Prevention: The best way to avoid a collision is to make yourself as visible as possible. Wear brightly colored clothing, especially pieces with reflective tape or fibers. Never ride in a skirt, and make sure pants are closely fitted to the body. Always wear closed-toe shoes instead of flip flops or sandals, which can slip off pedals.
Plus, bear in mind that bicycle riders are required to comply with the same traffic laws as motorists. Knowing and following these regulations is also the key to prevention.
2. Mitigating Injuries: Aside from donning a helmet, there are other forms of safety gear that can minimize the impact of a crash and reduce the potential for serious injuries. Always remember that a bicycle rider will typically suffer a secondary impact when tossed into the air and hitting the ground. Choose pants instead of shorts that leave skin exposed. Consider wearing pads on knees and elbows, and wear gloves to protect hands.
3. Take Care of Your Bike: Safety includes making sure your bicycle is road-worthy, properly maintained, and current on repairs. Check tires, brakes, and steering, particularly when heading out for your first Spring ride. Replace worn parts and tighten all screws and bolts.
How Motorists Can Keep Bicyclists Safe
Bike riders have an obvious, important incentive to follow the above tips, but those operating motorized vehicles also have a duty to drive safely. You can reduce the risk of bicycle collisions by:
- Looking twice when making maneuvers;
- Allowing bike riders a 2- to 3-foot buffer when driving in close proximity;
- Complying with traffic laws that apply to designated bike lanes; and,
- Watching for hand signals used by bicyclists to indicate a turn.
Note that the failure to follow these tips does not necessarily mean that a motorist is at fault for a bicycle accident. Bike riders also have an obligation to protect themselves, and there can be serious implications when a victim was careless in causing the incident. Maryland follows the rule of contributory negligence, which focuses on misconduct by the bicyclist. You could be barred from recovering compensation if you were also negligent while bike riding.
What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
The chaos and confusion after a crash can be overwhelming, so it may be helpful to get some guidance. Keep in mind that you have two priorities as the victim of a bike collision, and they are your health and your rights. Therefore:
- Check yourself to assess the nature and severity of your injuries.
- Call 911 to get first responders on the scene.
- Get proper medical care for your injuries.
- Contact a bike accident lawyer as soon as possible.
- Avoid conversations with the at-fault motorist and insurance company. Your words could impact your legal interests.
Speak to a Maryland Bicycle Accident Attorney About Your Legal Remedies
Even when bike riders and motorists follow safety tips, bicycle accidents remain a threat. You may not be able to prevent them entirely, but you can take action if you were hurt in a collision. For assistance with the legal process, please contact us. We can schedule a free case review with an experienced lawyer. After learning more about your case, we will advise you on what to expect.