According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle accidents involving bicycles usually account for only about two percent of all injuries and fatalities in the United States.
However, during the COVID-19 outbreak, cyclist injuries appear to be significantly increasing in the New York City metropolitan area. Between March 9 and March 15, 2020, there was an increase of more than 40 percent in the number of injuries to bicyclists in New York City. Many of these injuries occurred in Southern Brooklyn and Northern Brooklyn. Close to 90 percent of the crashes were due to some form of driver error, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD).
Why Is the COVID-19 Outbreak Leading to More Bicycle Accidents?
The number of motorists on the road has drastically decreased since stay at home orders went into effect in March. While the total number of motor vehicle collisions has decreased by about 30 percent and pedestrian accidents are down, the rate of bicycle accidents has increased dramatically. There are several theories explaining the rise in bike accidents, including the following:
- Bike ridership is increasing due to many factors, including the warmer weather and the temporary ban on other alternative forms of entertainment and exercise, such as going to the gym or playing basketball.
- Riding a bike conforms to the practice of social distancing.
- The city has not provided any additional protected infrastructure to handle the surge of new riders.
The direct causes of the recent bicycle crashes are analogous to most car and bike accidents, distracted driving on the part of the motorist, and their failure to yield to the bicycle in the road. According to the NYPD, nearly 90 percent of crashes involve some form of driver error.
How Can Bicycle Accidents Be Prevented?
There are numerous steps motorists can take to avoid crashing into a bicycle, including the following
- Recognize the rights of cyclists: Nearly all traffic laws that apply to cars also apply to bicyclists. Bicycles must ride in the same direction as other traffic that is going their way and follow the same traffic rules.
- Look for cyclists: This is especially true before turning or merging into bicycle lanes. Drivers may also injure cyclists by opening doors in a moving traffic lane.
- Give cyclists three feet of clearance: Many states have passed laws requiring this. Whether or not it is required where you are driving, it is always a good, safe idea.
- Be aware of cyclists’ vulnerability: An average car weighs 2,000 lbs. A bicycle may weigh less than 20 lbs. A cyclist has little chance of escaping injury when hit by a car.
Bicycles are here to stay, and ridership will only increase during the warmer months, especially if the United States economy continues operating under COVID-19 outbreak restrictions. If a bicycle accident does occur, it is beneficial to immediately contact an experienced lawyer for legal counsel.
Brooklyn Car Accident Lawyers at Eaton & Torrenzano Help Injured Accident Victims Receive Compensation
Bicyclists hit by a car die on the road at a rate that is twice as high as car occupants. If you were involved in a bicycle accident, seek immediate counsel. Our skilled Brooklyn car accident lawyers at Eaton & Torrenzano are experienced at handling personal injury claims involving bicycle accidents. For a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 718-332-7766. Located in Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Hillsborough, New Jersey, we represent injured victims throughout Kings County and Richmond County, including Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Manhattan.