Bicycling Baltimore – Ride Defensively for Safety
In recent years, bicycle riding including commuting has increased dramatically due to rising fuel costs. Bicycling is a fun alternative to driving a car, saving money on fuel, car maintenance and parking fees, and adding healthy exercise to your routine.
But it’s a sobering fact that bicycle riding can be risky, and bike accidents cause more emergency room visits than any other sport. These accidents can cause injuries, disability and even death. Common bicycle accident injuries range from simple abrasions and cuts to broken bones such as a clavicle (shoulder) fracture. Head injuries are frequent, including skull fractures and brain injuries such as concussions and contusions.
Since 1932, more than 50,000 cyclists have died in fatal bicycle accidents in the U.S. Others may have been negligent in causing the accident. A Wrongful Death claim can be brought against someone who can be judged responsible for a death in a fatal accident. The settlement that may result from a Wrongful Death case can compensate the victim’s family for economic losses such as funeral and medical costs, as well as non-economic losses such as damages for pain and suffering and lost companionship.
Maryland Bicycling Laws
Maryland is one of fourteen states with minimum bicycle passing clearance requirements for motorists. Vehicles passing bicyclists must clear them by more than three feet. Maryland has other motor vehicle/bicycle laws aimed at greater safety for bikes on the road:
- All bicyclists under age 16 must wear safety helmets on public roads and bike paths. Some local jurisdictions have tougher rules; Sykesville, for example, requires helmets for riders of all ages.
- Bicycles are not allowed on roads where the posted speed limit is greater than 50 mph.
- A rider may not ride with a headset or earplugs on both ears.
Visit the Maryland Department of Transportation MVA webpage for complete information on state bicycle laws.
Baltimore has miles of bike paths and other bicycle-friendly roadways. Check out the Baltimore City Government Bike Lanes webpage to learn the difference between a bike lane and a “sharrow” (shared roadway between motorists and bicyclists). You can also find a complete map of all Baltimore bike lanes and paths here.
Don’t Get Doored
“Getting doored” is a hazard unique to bicycle riders when passing a parked car. If someone in the car opens the door, you may run into the open door. Many of these dooring accidents can be prevented by maneuvering safely on streets with parked cars:
- You have a right to your space in the road and to passing parked cars at a safe distance.
- When riding in a bike lane, keep to the left side –motorists passing you from behind can see you, but a person in a parked car may not.
- Be aware of signs that someone may exit the car, such as brake lights or someone sitting in the car.
What to Do if You Are Involved in a Bicycle Accident
- Call 911 immediately even if there are no apparent injuries.
- Wait for the police to arrive on the scene.
- Get driver and witness information.
- Document the accident scene and take photos.
- Seek immediate medical attention and document all treatment.
- Review your case with an attorney qualified in personal injury law.
Motor vehicle/bicycle accidents are often caused by car or truck driver inattention or negligence. However, this does not absolve bicyclists from taking precautions to ride safely and be visible. Above all, be on the lookout for upcoming road and vehicle hazards. Always ride defensively for safety! If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, it’s important to get an attorney experienced in these types of cases involved immediately. Call Glusing and Muher, injury lawyers in Baltimore, at 410-861-0904 for a free consultation.
Photo by infomatique