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Blue Bikes Offer New Transportation Mode, But Dangers Still Abound

Blue bicycles emblazoned with “citi bike” are becoming ubiquitous around New York City. On May 27, 2013, the Citi Bike program opened to Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. The program started with 6,000 bicycles at more than 300 stations. The “city has added more than 350 miles of bike lanes in recent years” in order to accommodate the Citi Bike program. While biking is healthy and doesn’t add to air pollution, a biker must be cautious and aware to prevent injury.

Injuries While Biking

“About 800 deaths and more than half a million emergency room visits related to bicycling occur in the United States each year. Head injuries account for about two-thirds of hospitalizations and three-fourths of deaths. … Helmets would prevent about 85 percent of head injuries.”

A common cause of injuries is “dooring” where a driver opens their car door in front of a bicyclist creating an obstacle. Incidents of dooring, “along with drivers’ failure to give bikers the right of way, account for nearly half of all bicycle-vehicle accidents.” It is recommended that bicyclists “heed the ‘door zone,’ biking roughly four feet to the left of parked cars.”

Bikers also need to take responsibility for their actions while on the road. It is important to avoid distractions, maintain safe speeds and obey traffic signals. “A recent study in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention found that bicyclists who text or talk on the phone or with a fellow bicyclist are more than twice as likely to engage in unsafe biking behaviors.”

Bicycle Safety

There are a number of actions a bicyclist can take to protect themselves while riding. First off, as mentioned above, wearing a helmet can prevent major head injury. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a website devoted to bicycle information. NHTSA has a brochure to properly fit a bike helmet. The brochure says to measure your head, position the helmet low on the forehead, adjust the side straps to form a “v” shape under the ears, and center the left buckle under the chin. When buckling the chinstrap, it should be snug, but allow two fingers to fit under it.

Having lights in addition to reflectors on both the front and the back of a bicycle will increase visibility at night. Also, wearing “reflective tape or markings on equipment or clothing” helps too.

It is important to remember that “bicyclists are considered vehicle operators; they are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. When cycling in the street, cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic.”

Always signal all turns. “Point your left arm out to move left, and point your right arm out to move right. Before signaling left, be sure to check your mirror or look behind you before signaling (since a car passing too closely can take your arm out).”

Even if a cyclist takes all possible precautions of using a helmet and wearing reflective tape, accidents do happen. If you have been injured while riding a bike or by a bicyclist, contact our knowledgeable attorneys to protect your rights.

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