If you are one of the many Illinois residents who enjoys cycling, you are likely be aware of the risks you face every time you take to the road. Many drivers of cars and commercial vehicles do not lookout for bicycle riders, nor do they allow cyclists their rightful space on the streets. Unfortunately, this attitude of motor vehicle operators can cause tragic accidents.
Due to the difference in size and the lack of protection for bicycle riders, collisions between automobiles and bicycles often leave the cyclist with catastrophic injuries or worse. When these accidents are the result of a driver’s negligence, the injured cyclists should not be the ones liable for their medical bills, lost wages and other damages while trying to recover from the physical harm they suffered.
Typical hazards for cyclists
While safety authorities often say the first and last word in cycling safety is wearing a helmet, the reality is that a helmet cannot prevent an accident. It might limit the severity of injuries, but it cannot stop a negligent driver from striking you. The following hazards all have a high potential for resulting in bicycle accidents, and knowing how to increase your odds of avoiding them might help keep you out of harm’s way:
- The right entry hazard: A car can suddenly pull out of a driveway, parking lot or side street on your right, directly into your path, making it impossible for you to avoid a collision. A vehicle can also strike you if the driver pulls out when you are passing in front of his or her car.
- The crosswalk hazard: Drivers making right turns may not expect to see you in the crosswalk, especially if you are riding on the sidewalk and then decide to enter the crosswalk.
- The door hazard: Anticipating motorists opening car doors unexpectedly and allowing extra space when you go past parked cars may be wise.
- The red light hazard: It might be safer to stop behind rather than to the right of a driver who intends to turn right when the light turns green. You may be in his or her blind spot, and your life could be on the line when the driver turns without seeing you — particularly when it is a bus or large truck.
- The rear-end hazard: If you have to veer slightly left to pass a parked car or another obstacle on the right side of the road, a vehicle could potentially rear-end you. Another possible deadly risk is a driver approaching from behind who fails to see you ahead and smashes into you at full speed — especially after dark in poorly lit areas.
- The wrong-way hazard: Cycling can be especially hazardous if you ride against the flow of traffic. Drivers entering from parking lots or driveways might only check for traffic from the left, and thus may not expect anyone coming from the right.
- The right turn hazard: This involves a driver making a right turn immediately after passing you, or a slow-moving vehicle that turns into a driveway or parking lot while you are passing it on the right-hand side.
- The left turn hazard: This is similar, but involves a vehicle that approaches from ahead and makes a left turn directly into your path, leaving you no time to evade a collision.
If you are suffering the consequences of a bicycle accident that was not your fault, you have the right to seek the support and guidance of an experienced attorney who can advocate for you in holding a negligent driver accountable for your financial losses and emotional damages.