Why are bike accidents on the rise during Covid-19?
Cycling accidents have been increasing during the Covid-19 lockdown since more people are cycling. Especially in urban centers, people are choosing cycling over mass transportation to try and avoid exposure to the virus. In smaller centers, where people are not driving to work, restaurants or stores, people are just looking for safer ways to get outside while social distancing is in place. Also, with gyms being closed, riding in quieter streets with much less traffic seems like a great way to try and stay in shape. Unfortunately, kids have been especially impacted. In fact, according to Safe Kids Palm Beach County, youth bike accidents have skyrocketed during Covid-19 shutdown with 167% increase since schools closed on March 13.
Is riding a bike on the road dangerous?
The answer is simple: yes! Riding a bike on the road is dangerous. In fact, according to the CDC “bicycle trips account for only 1% of all trips in the United States.1 However, bicyclists face a higher risk of crash-related injury and deaths than occupants in motor vehicles.”
Why? First and foremost, cars are typically going the speed limit or over the limit in many instances, and faster than most cyclists are traveling at any given time. Speed definitely plays a role in the risk of injury and deaths to cyclists. Also, unlike the protection of a car, a bike offers no protection against impact whatsoever. Moreover, drivers unfortunately have many distractions while driving, like being late, listening to news on the radio, using their cell phones and texting, just to name a few. Therefore, riding a bike on the road makes for a dangerous activity for cyclists.
How common are fatal bike accidents in Florida?
According to a report from the National Highway Traffic Administration, deaths among Florida bicyclists age 20 and older have tripled since 1975. The 2018 report shows that in Florida, 21.1% of cyclists were killed between the hours of 6PM and 12AM, followed by 15.5% which were killed during 6AM and 8:59AM. The reasons may be related to less daylight later in the day, which could make for a visibility issue. Also, heavy morning traffic during the early hours likely plays a role. Regardless of the time of day, the highest causative factor, with a 38.5% rate of fatality, was failure to yield right of way.
Rules for safety on the road
There are rules you can follow in order to make riding on the road safer and even less worrisome. The National Highway Traffic Administration offers a simple guide with rules for safety riding on the road. Following these rules may not guarantee a 100% accident-free ride, but hopefully, it will help prevent the worse-case scenario.
Tips for a safer bike ride:
Other than road safety, there are other safety tips you can use. Just follow the tips on our protocol:
1. This one goes without saying: wear a helmet and make sure it fits you properly. In many ways, a poorly-fitting helmet is the same as no helmet.
2. Be aware of hidden driveways, specially if you are riding on the sidewalk. Many homes’ driveways use shrubs and other plants for privacy and landscape décor. Easy rule to remember, if you don’t see the car, they don’t see you.
3. Wear bright clothes and be seen. Go for bright green, yellow and orange colors. Black and white are not very visible, just remember: the louder the color, the better are the changes drivers will not miss you.
4. Make eye contact with drivers. Don’t assume that because a car stopped at a stop sign, they see you coming, because most of the time, they just don’t. Slow down and make eye contact, stop if you must and wait until is totally safe to proceed.
5. Always use the bike lane. It is just plain safer to be on the bike lane, however they are not always available. Planning your route ahead and looking for areas where bike lanes are mostly available is just the smartest and safest approach when comes to cycling.
6. Ride with the traffic and never against it. Just go with the flow, easy to remember and it makes sense, after all no one wants a head collision while cycling.
7. Be aware of parked cars along the road. Someone could be inside the vehicle and open the door at any given time causing you to crash and be severely hurt.
Final thoughts on safety for cyclists
And finally, think about bike maintenance. Follow these steps to make sure your bike is good for the ride:
1. Check that the brakes are working properly both front and rear end.
2. Pump your bike tires accordingly to their pressure instructions.
3. A comfortable and right-sized seat makes for a better ride.
4. Your bike chain doesn’t last forever. Check the model and maker guidelines for proper lubrification, installation and when to replace it
5. Have your bike serviced every 6 months for everyday commute and every 12 months for light use.
Unfortunately, cycling accidents happen every day. It is important to learn how to safely ride on the road, and how to proper maintain your bike to try to avoid bicycle accidents. However, if you or a loved one have been involved in a bicycle accident in Florida, it is very important to obtain representation that is knowledgeable regarding these unique cases.