We often think of riding a bike as a pleasant way to enjoy a warm summer day, a fun way to squeeze in some exercise, or perhaps even an economical way to get to work. People of all ages have enjoyed riding bikes since the first one was invented in Germany in 1817. In the modern world, however, riding a bike can be a dangerous activity.
Bike Accident Statistics
According to a report published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in the United States, there were 857 bicycle fatalities in traffic crashes in 2018, which was the deadliest year for cyclists in 30 years. The report concludes that bike-riding fatalities:
- Occur more in urban areas (75 percent) than rural areas (25 percent)
- Occur at a similar rate in all four seasons
- Occur mostly between 6 p.m. and 9.pm
- Occur 8 times more for males than females
- Involve alcohol about 37 percent of the time
Bicycle accidents resulting in injury are even more prevalent. Every year, bicycle injuries result in:
- Almost 25,000 hospital admissions
- Approximately 600,000 visits to the E.R.
- About 1.2 million physician clinic visits
In another study conducted at Seattle Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, researchers concluded that:
- 62% of the injured bicyclists in the study rode their bikes every day
- Almost half of the injured patients were children under 12 years old
- A cyclist not wearing a helmet is 14.3 times more likely to die in a crash than a cyclist wearing a helmet
- Wearing a helmet decreases the chance of fatality in an accident by 93 percent
- More than half of the injured riders in the study were not wearing a helmet at the time of their accident
- 50 percent of injuries were caused by riders losing control and striking the ground
- 29 percent of injuries resulted from colliding with an obstacle
- About 15 percent of injuries involved a collision with a motor vehicle
You May Need a Personal Injury Attorney to Recover Damages for Injuries Sustained in a Bike Accident
Bike accidents resulting in injury usually occur in one of two ways—a fall or a collision with a motor vehicle. Either way, it is often the case that someone else is responsible for the cyclist’s injuries.
- Someone driving a car may have been negligent in operating the vehicle
- Someone driving a car may have violated a traffic law
- Someone may have been negligent or careless in maintaining the property on which the accident occurred
If you or a loved one were injured in a bike accident that may have been caused by someone driving a motor vehicle or someone creating or ignoring a hazardous condition, you will need an experienced attorney to establish a claim for damages for your injuries and any property damage you may have sustained.
You May Need a Personal Injury Attorney If You Sustained Injuries Caused by a Defective Bike
It is possible that you or a loved one experienced a fall on a bicycle and sustained injuries not because of anything you did wrong, and not because of a hazardous condition that someone else caused or ignored, but because the bicycle you were riding was manufactured incorrectly or was built with defective parts. This is what is called “product liability.”
Product liability cases can be very complex and almost always require expert witnesses to testify about the defect in the product. If you or a loved one sustained injuries because of a defective bicycle, you will need an experienced product liability attorney to investigate the specific cause of your accident and file a claim against the manufacturer of the bicycle or the producer of the defective parts with which the bicycle was made.
You May Need a Personal Injury Attorney If You Are Charged with a Federal or State Crime Related to Bicycles
Even if you were not injured in a vehicle collision on your bicycle, there are local, state, and federal laws that govern the manner in which you ride your bike, as well as other actions regarding bicycles. In general, Missouri law provides that you have the same rights and responsibilities with respect to a bicycle as you do for any motor vehicle.
Even more specifically, the Missouri Model Vehicle Code prohibits:
- Improperly driving a motor vehicle in a designated bicycle lane (a “designated bicycle lane” is a part of a road or highway that is designated with pavement signs or striping as reserved exclusively for riding bicycles) (§ 300.330)
- Failing to yield to a bicycle in a designated bicycle lane (§ 300.330)
- Riding a bicycle on a sidewalk within a business district (§ 300.347)
- Riding a motorized bicycle on a sidewalk (§ 300.347)
- Not yielding the right-of-way to a pedestrian when riding your bicycle on a sidewalk (§ 300.347)
- Riding your bicycle on a sidewalk and not giving audible signals before passing a pedestrian (§ 300.347)
- Riding a bicycle and attaching to another vehicle on the road (§ 300.350)
- Driving a vehicle and knowingly pulling a bicycle-rider behind the vehicle (§ 300.350)
- Failing to maintain a safe distance when passing a bicycle riding in the same direction on the road (§ 300.411)
- Improperly crossing an intersection at a red light on your bicycle (§ 304.285)
- Riding a bicycle not equipped with brakes sufficient for you to stop “within  feet, from a speed of ten miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.” (§ 307.183)
- Riding a bicycle on a “street or highway during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise” without proper lights and reflectors (§ 307.185)
- Not riding your bicycle near the right side of the road when riding at less than the posted speed or slower than the flow of traffic (§ 307.190)
- Riding your bicycle on the road, or the shoulder of the road, in an opposite direction as vehicles are required to drive on the road (§ 307.191)
- Failing to give proper hand or mechanical signals when riding a bicycle (§ 307.192)
There also are federal laws governing:
- The use of bicycles in federal highway bike lanes (23 U.S.C. § 217) (under federal law, bike lanes are called “bicycle transportation facilities”)
- Children’s bicycle helmet safety (15 U.S.C. Ch. 86)
Although the enforcement of these laws is far less likely than sustaining injuries in a bicycle fall or collision, if you are ever charged with a local, state, or federal crime involving the use of a bicycle, you will need an attorney who knows and understands the laws and penalties relevant to those crimes.