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The most common causes of bicycle accidents: Understanding and reducing your risk

On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2016 | Bicycle Accidents

Photo of Christopher Seleski

Whether you do it for health reasons, to protect the environment or for the simple enjoyment of it, cycling is a way of life for many New York City residents. Unfortunately, far too often, motorists fail to give cyclists the space that they deserve. With around two cyclists dying daily in motor vehicle collisions in 2014, it seems like it’s up to riders to protect themselves.


Is it possible to take your well-being into your own hands? Educating yourself is definitely a good start. Here are some of the most common contributing factors that might result in you getting injured on the road:

    • Being struck by a car: Almost 30 percent of all injuries that cyclists experienced in 2012 occurred when they got hit by cars. Vehicle collisions are the most common source of accident injuries by far, and their causes can be very diverse.
    • Bad driving: Cyclists have the same responsibilities as drivers, but drivers may fail to recognize that cyclists also have the same rights. When cars fail to yield or allow bikers to merge, they can place riders in hazardous proximity to vehicles that are many times their size.
    • Distraction, intoxication and impairment: In many cases, bikers get struck by motorists because drivers simply weren’t paying attention. This problem is increasingly prevalent as smartphone usage rises. Alcohol and drugs can also be a factor. For instance, 35 percent of all deadly bicycle crashes in 2014 involved intoxication, and 19 percent of fatally injured cyclists had blood alcohol concentrations above the legal limit.
    • Poor visibility: One-fifth of all fatal bike wrecks in 2014 took place roughly between the hours of 6 and 9 p.m. More than 70 percent of all bicycle fatalities occurred in urban areas. It’s definitely hazardous to ride in low-visibility conditions or heavy traffic – both of which can make it harder for drivers to pick you out from the background.

Other sources of danger for cyclists

Moving cars aren’t the only risks for those who love cycling. In cities like Washington, DC, there are many spots where bike lanes disappear abruptly, and advocacy groups in New York City have long complained about civil servant vehicles blocking dedicated bike lanes. These conditions force riders out into traffic and make them execute dangerous avoidance maneuvers.

Many riders sustain fall injuries, but contrary to popular belief, these aren’t necessarily their fault. For instance, poor road conditions and improperly marked construction can make it difficult to keep riding in a controlled fashion. If you encounter these elements while moving at higher speeds, you stand a fair chance of flying over your handlebars.

The takeaway

Bike wrecks can occur for a host of reasons. Although not paying attention will definitely put you in harm’s way, other parties may also bear some responsibility. In addition to wearing safety gear and slowing down in hazardous conditions, many cyclists are fighting back by donning helmet cameras, installing lights on their bikes and riding more defensively in general.


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