May celebrates National Bike Month and today is National Bike to Work Day, both of which are promoted by the League of American Bicyclists to encourage bicycling’s many benefits. New York has the highest percentage of bicycling commuters in the country and tens of thousands of New Jerseyans bike to work every day. Beyond commuting, young and old take advantage of bicycling’s many health benefits and enjoyable way to experience the outdoors.
Studies show that riding a bike on a road is about as safe as driving or riding in a car; however, riders should be aware of certain dangers and risks of injury. While bicycling fatalities have generally decreased since 1975, fatal bicycle accidents have been on the rise since 2010. Children account for fewer fatalities while adults over the age of 20 have seen bicycle fatality rates triple. Read on for bicycling safety tips and FAQ about bike accidents.
Safety Tips for Bicycle Riding
If you’re planning on commuting to work on a bike or riding along busy roads, it's especially important to equip yourself with the knowledge of how to do so safely.
- Always wear a helmet. Traumatic brain injuries account for 60% of the injuries suffered in a bike accident. A helmet offers protection in the event of a crash.
- Dress in bright colors. Bright colors are easier for motorists to see.
- Use a horn or bell. New Jersey law requires bicycles to be equipped with a horn or bell.
- Ride with traffic. Never ride against traffic, rather make sure you’re riding with traffic on the right side of the road with no more than two bicyclists abreast.
- Learn how to use hand signals. Hand signals can help motorists understand your intentions when riding, especially in dangerous intersections or making left-hand turns.
- Don’t use earbuds. It's important to be alert while riding. Listening to music or any other distraction can cause you to lose focus and attention on the road. Or, you may not hear a car coming up behind you.
- Don’t ride with a passenger. Do not allow others to ‘hitch’ a ride or ride on the bike (unless it is designed for more than one person).
- Ride sober. Just like driving a vehicle, operating a bicycle after drinking or using drugs can seriously impair judgment reflexes and your ability to safely operate a bike.
Bicycle Accident FAQ
Many veteran and new riders have questions about New Jersey bicycle safety and laws related to bicycle accidents in the state.
Do you have to wear a helmet when riding a bike in New Jersey?
New Jersey law requires all riders under the age of 17 to wear a helmet while riding a bike. While the law doesn’t require helmets for those 18 and over, wearing a helmet significantly reduces your risk of a brain or head injury and you’re highly advised to do so.
Can you ride your bike on the sidewalk in New Jersey?
State law does not prohibit riding a bike on a sidewalk but some municipalities or towns may have ordinances preventing you from doing so. Regardless of where you are, pedestrians have the right of way.on sidewalks. The safest place for a bike is on the road, riding with traffic.
What are the laws around riding a bike at night?
It can be very dangerous to ride a bike at night. If you must do so, according to New Jersey law, your bike must be equipped with :
- A front headlamp emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least 600 feet to the front
- A rear lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of at least 600 feet to the rear;
- In addition to the red lamp a red reflector may be mounted on the rear.
What are the common types of bicycle accidents?
Keep in mind, most bicycle accidents occur at intersections in urban areas. The most common types of bike accidents leading to serious injury or death are turning accidents -- especially left-hand turns and dooring incidents where a cyclist collides with a driver or passenger’s door just as they are opening it. Unfortunately, hit and run accidents with cyclists are fairly common.
Who is liable in a bicycle accident?
Liability in any accident largely depends on the circumstance; however, oftentimes the motorist bears some liability for the accident due to negligence. New Jersey operates by what is known as a "comparative negligence" rule. Under this law, you can obtain damages or compensation for your claim, so long as your own liability is not greater than the individual who caused your accident (not more than 50%).
What should you do if you've been involved in a bicycle accident?
If possible after the accident, make sure to get the names and contact information for the driver, passengers and other witnesses to the accident. Even if the accident seems minor, call the police so they can create and file a police report.. Some injuries and symptoms may be slow to appear but make sure to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Lastly, contact a personal injury lawyer about your case.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, an experienced bicycle accident attorney can help you understand your options. At Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, we believe in compassion and empathy and want to help. Contact us today for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success, we can get you the justice you deserve.