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Will cars and bicycles ever get along?

We read about it every Spring: The never-ending battle between drivers and bicyclists on our Colorado roads. Each year, hundreds of accidents result when cars won't share the road with a bike rider, or a bike rider fails to follow the rules of a vehicle on our roadways.

A report about the most common types of car-bike accidents

According to a report put out by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), bike accidents generally fall into specific categories. Some of these categories do not involve interaction with motor vehicles, so we won't discuss them here.

Some facts about common types of bicycle accidents include:

  • Things haven't changed much since the 1970s, when the FHWA began keeping statistics. About three-quarters of all bicycle accidents involving a motor vehicle occur at intersections in towns and cities.
  • Bike riders under the age of 15 are involved in the highest percentage of bicycle accidents involving a car or truck.
  • The biker is injured or dies of injuries in more than 18 percent of accidents involving a motor vehicle.
  • Biker alcohol or drug use was a contributory factor in just 5 percent of all accidents involving a motor vehicle. However, in the age group of bikers aged 25 to 44, it jumps to 15 percent.
  • About two-thirds of bike accidents with motor vehicles involved occur in the late afternoon, when more cars are on the road and visibility may be reduced toward sunset hours.
  • About 60 percent of bike-car accidents occur on narrower two lane roads nationwide.
  • The bicyclists is judged to be at fault in about 50 percent of bike accidents involving a motor vehicle.

Some tips for sharing the road

It is clear by the statistics that when bikers and cars interact on our roadways, the biker is greater danger. So, if things haven't changed that much since the 1970s, what can we do today, when there are more bikers and cars crowding our roads?

The Washington Post recently published an article addressing road safety for bike riders and car drivers, in which several tips were presented.

Some common sense tips include:

For car drivers: When looking for pedestrians, take a little extra time to consciously look for bicycles that may be approaching the intersection, as well.

For car drivers: Don't park in a bike lane. Period.

For car drivers: When parallel parked, check your rear view mirror before opening your car door. There is a reason many bikers ride several feet out in the street when passing a row of parked cars.

For bike riders: When on a bike, you are a vehicle and subject to the rules of the road just as if you are in a car. That means stopping at stop signs and red traffic lights and signaling your turn properly.

For bike riders: If you are new to biking, or returning to the activity after many years away, don't assume it is as easy as the old saying goes. Take some time to get your bearings before trying to take on a busy city street.

For car drivers: Don't rush the biker. There will always be somewhere safe up ahead to pass the bike.

For bike riders: In heavy traffic, you need to hear your surroundings, as well as see what's going on. That may mean taking out your ear buds.

For bike riders: Don't try to scoot past a row of cars stopped at an intersection by driving in the curb gutter or squeezing through the narrow gap between cars.

If you were injured in a bike accident involving a car, we invite you to learn more about our legal representation for people hurt in motor vehicle accidents.

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