Side-Swipe Bicycle Accidents

Side-Swipe Bicycle Accidents

Riding in urban areas always poses risks to bicyclists. Sharing the road with bicyclists may not be a new phenomenon for motorists, but there are more people using bicycles to commute, shop, take short trips or for physical health than ever before. Even with marked bike lanes, collisions or incidents with bicyclists still occur, though their incidence may be decreasing somewhat.

About one-third of bicycle injury accidents involve a motor vehicle. Obviously, any contact between a car and a bicycle can lead to significant injuries such as broken bones or head injuries for the cyclist given the great disparity in weight and the lack of protection for the bicyclist.

Sideswipe accidents are a particular hazard for bike riders. These occur when a motorist is attempting to pass a cyclist or turns in front of one to enter a driveway. It can also occur when the motorist is getting into position to parallel park or when making a turn. Even if the motorist has seen the bicyclist, the driver may misjudge the speed and distance of the rider. In other situations, the motorist may simply get too close to the bike and clips it, causing the rider to lose control of the bike. This can also expose the rider to fall into the path of other vehicles.

Any bicyclist can ride more safely and avoid side-swipe accidents and others by following these simple safety tips:

  • Obey all traffic laws–you are considered a motor vehicle and may be ticketed if you violate any law
  • Assume that drivers do not see you
  • Use hand signals for turning
  • Wear reflective clothing if possible
  • Have flashing lights on your bike
  • Avoid riding at night
  • Stay in marked bicycle lanes
  • Do not speed in traffic
  • Always wear a helmet
  • Do not ride impaired
  • Be especially cautious at intersections

Motorists need to share the road with bicyclists, regardless if there are marked bike lanes or not. They need to follow these common sense rules on the roadway where bikes are present:

  • Be aware of marked bike lanes and assume there are bike riders in them
  • If driving at night, be especially vigilant
  • Double check blind spots before turning or changing lanes
  • If passing a cyclist, be sure there is enough space and slow down
  • Give bike riders the right of way
  • Do not drive distracted or impaired

If you are a bike rider injured by a negligent motorist, you have the same rights to obtain compensation as any other claimant including the right to receive PIP or personal injury protection benefits if in a no-fault state. You can also use the uninsured and underinsured provisions of your own auto insurance policy if the motorist was uninsured or had only minimal or inadequate coverage. Otherwise, you can collect from the responsible motorist’s auto liability policy.

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