Colorado is a top destination for outdoor fun and adventure, and hitting our roadways by bicycle is just one of the many ways to enjoy the state’s breathtaking scenery. However, accident statistics show that a recreational outing by bike can quickly turn to serious injury, or even death. According to the latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures, 743 bicyclists were killed annually in crashes with motor vehicles — that’s the highest number of fatalities since 2006. And during that same period, 48,000 bicyclists suffered accident injuries — that’s a 9 percent jump since 2001. Bicycle accidents can be attributed to many factors including risks based on the time of day (with nighttime riding being most dangerous), experience level of rider, location of riding, and alcohol use by cyclists or motorists.
The Colorado Department of Transportation’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program aims to cut down on accidents, and offers some cycling tips for making our streets safe and fun for everyone.
- Did you know that 75 percent of all bicycle fatalities are a result of head injuries? Always use an approved bicycle helmet even though Colorado does not have a mandatory helmet use law. Wearing a helmet can reduce the severity of a crash-related injury by 88 percent, and may just save your life.
- Don’t drink and ride. Alcohol use, by a motor vehicle operator or cyclist, is responsible for more than 34 percent of all bicycle-related fatal crashes.
<li>Never wear headphones when cycling on roadways because they can block out other sounds that you need to hear to stay safe.
- Just like vehicle drivers, always obey all traffic laws and use hand signals to indicate turns or stopping. Never assume motorists can see you or that you have the right-of-way.
- No matter how safely you ride, an unsafe bicycle can put you at risk, so regularly check your bike’s tire pressure and wear, chain cleanliness, brake and gear shifting performance, and that head and tail lamps are functioning properly.
While cyclists can do their part to ride safely, they have little control over the carelessness or negligence of fellow motorists. To protect cyclists, Colorado law requires operators of motor vehicles to exercise a reasonable amount of care while on the roadway, and their failure to do so can result in serious accidents and injuries. Speeding, failure to obey traffic signs, alcohol or drug use, or other reckless behaviors are usually to blame for crashes between motor vehicles and bicycles.
Were you or someone you love injured in a bicycle accident? A Colorado bicycle accident attorney understands the laws that apply to your case and can help investigate your accident and evaluate your potential claim. A knowledgeable bike accident lawyer can also help injured victims recover compensation for emotional pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages and other costs.