Bicycles are subject to the rules of the road, just like cars. However navigating a bicycle on a busy city street takes extra care. The hum of city life means that cars will appear from blind spots, pedestrians talking on cell phones will pop out from behind SUVs and other cyclists may not see you until a collision is close. So even though you have the same rights and responsibilities as a cyclist, it’s good common sense to take steps to make sure you’re safe.
Bike accidents can happen even when riders are experienced — and even when they use their vehicles to earn their living. Despite their sometimes astonishing skill making their way through crowds and traffic, in a collision with a car, they are much less protected and more vulnerable to injury. Accidents can also happen because of reasons beyond the bicyclist’s control: Our firm, in one such recent case, won an award of $1.2 million for a 19-year-old Bronx bike messenger whose skull was fractured in a collision with a car.
Advocates for bike riders advise that to avoid accidents, riders must follow traffic rules and take steps to make sure they are visible to other vehicles. Sites such as Bicyclesafe.com and Bicycling magazine encourage riders to take special care at intersections to consider the automobile driver’s perspective during different kinds of bike/car encounters — for example, can the driver see you when you’re making a turn alongside? They also encourage riders to wear reflective gear (especially at night), use flashing tail lights, head lights and mirrors fixed to the bike, choose safe, wide streets whenever possible, ride with the traffic (and never on the sidewalk) and to slow down and assess your surroundings.