Drivers not always vigilant for bikes sharing the road

Bicyclists face numerous hazards in traffic, particularly in congested urban areas. Drivers do not always look out for bicycles.

Bicycling is a popular and effective way for people to get exercise and enjoy fresh air, as well as an alternative method of transportation that is good for the environment. Most people are able to enjoy the benefits of bicycling with no problems. Unfortunately, there are many others who are injured or killed in accidents involving motor vehicles. Chicago bicyclists who share the road with motor vehicles may face many dangers, especially on busy urban streets.

The accident statistics are disturbing for Illinois bicyclists. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 30 cyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in the state in 2013. This number was higher than any of the previous nine years, and did not list the additional numbers of bicyclists injured in crashes.

Location and time of day can make a difference for cyclists

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more bicyclists are killed in busy urban areas and at non-intersection locations than anywhere else. This is especially true on roadways that haven't been developed to more safely accommodate bicycle traffic. A large number of bike accidents occur in low visibility, particularly during the hours between dusk and dawn.

How do motor vehicle drivers get into so many accidents with bicyclists? Many simply fail to notice a bicycle nearby. They may be distracted or forget to check their surroundings before making a turn. Some follow a bicycle too closely or don't give it enough space while passing. It can also be easy to forget to check for bikes when backing up, driving in a parking lot or turning at an intersection.

Bicycle crash injuries are often serious

The injuries sustained in a crash involving a bicycle and vehicle can be severe and life-threatening. They often include the following:

  • Broken bones, especially to the arms and legs
  • Deep lacerations or severe road rash
  • Abdominal or chest injuries
  • Serious head injuries

A recent accident in Alexander County showed just how sudden and serious a bicycle accident can be. WSIL News reported that last July, a vehicle appeared to have passed a bicyclist too closely, clipping the 37-year-old cyclist with the passenger-side mirror. The man lost control of his bike and swerved into the traffic lane, where he was hit by another vehicle driving behind the one that originally hit him. The man was killed, and the first driver charged with improper overtaking of a bicycle.

Victims of bike crashes or their families may seek compensation of their expenses related to the crash. If you or a loved one was harmed in a bicycle accident by a negligent driver, it may help to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.