What are Bicycle Lanes and Do They Really Protect You?
If you’re someone who enjoys riding your bicycle for work or pleasure, you likely have discovered that your town or city has painted lanes on both sides of the street for bicycle riding. Called bicycle lanes, the theory behind them is that they provide a safe place for cyclists to ride.
Unfortunately, however, bike lanes don’t always live up to their intended purpose. Why? Think about it. Is a painted stripe really going to protect you from being hit by a motorist? The obvious answer is no.
Recent Study Findings
A recent study of 18,500 incidents where a motor vehicle overtook a bicycle revealed the following sobering results:
- When no bike lane exists, motorists leave an average of 5.5 feet of space between themselves and the cyclist.
- When a bike lane exists, motorists leave an average of only 3.5 feet of space between themselves and the cyclist.
- The larger the passing vehicle, the less room its driver tends to leave between himself or herself and the cyclist, regardless of the existence of a bike lane or lack thereof.
- The higher the road’s speed limit and the narrower its lanes, the less room motorists leave between themselves and the cyclist, regardless of the existence of a bike lane or lack thereof.
Based on this and other studies, experts argue that riding in a painted bike lane may pose a greater danger to you than if you simply ride as far to the right as possible on a road with no bike lane. In addition, motorists are notorious for not only weaving into painted bike lanes, but also for ignoring them completely when getting ready to make a right-hand turn.
Bottom line, don’t assume that a painted bike lane will keep you safe. Only a lane protected by an actual barrier between it and the adjoining traffic lane can do that.
If a Motorist Hits You
It goes without saying that if a motorist hits you while you’re riding your bicycle, you stand a high chance of receiving serious injuries. After all, the vehicle weighs much more than you do and your bike provides you with no protection. Regardless of the state in which you live, drivers have the legal obligation to stop and render you assistance if they hit you.
Someone should call 911 to report the accident and request law enforcement and emergency medical help. If the EMTs recommend that you go to the emergency room, by all means go, even if you have no insurance to cover the ambulance cost.
Also be sure to assist the law enforcement officers in making their accident report, and find out when, where, and how you can obtain a copy. It will give you and your bicycle accident lawyer the information needed to sue the negligent driver for compensation that is sufficient to cover whatever economic and noneconomic damages you sustain as the result of the accident. A personal injury and accident firm like Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC may be of assistance to you.