There are over 100 million bicycles in the United States, a number that increases each year. The COVID-19 pandemic accounted for a huge increase in interested cyclists in 2020 and 2021. Many people didn’t want to be on public transportation, and others reveled in the fact that working from home eliminated their commutes and gave them more free time.
In fact, a recent poll found that 50% of Americans intended to ride a bike more after the pandemic. The National Association of City Transport Officials (NACTO) reports seeing “an explosion of cycling” in American cities.
Sales of bikes in the U.S. in March 2021 were nearly double those in March 2020. So, whether you have been a long-time devotee of the freedom and health perks of bike riding or whether you have just taken up this much-loved activity, you are not alone.
Advantages to regular bike riding:
- Increased cardiovascular fitness
- Decreased body fat levels
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Increased muscle strength and flexibility
- Boosted immune system through physical activity
- Reduced cognitive decline and increased memory
- Money saved on gas
- Mileage saved on your car
- Reduced greenhouse emissions
- Convenience for short distances and parking
- Fun, especially when riding with family or friends
- Chance to enjoy the fresh air
This is all positive news, but of course, there is another side of the coin: the possibility of injury or even death.
Mark Twain summed up both the joys and perils of riding a bike when he said, “Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.”
Even before the explosive growth in biking, in 2019, 843 bicyclists were killed in accidents involving motor vehicles in the United States. This is a 16% increase from the lowest point in 2010. There were also 49,000 injuries to bicyclists, a 4.3% increase from the previous year.
Kentucky does not have as many bicycle accidents as the densely populated states of California, Florida, or Texas, but it has its fair share of bike accidents involving other vehicles.
In 2019, the Kentucky State Police reported a total of 330 crashes involving a pedalcyclist and another vehicle. These 330 crashes resulted in over 200 injuries and 4 fatalities.
Louisville bicycle crash facts:
- Cyclists aged 25-34 had the most accidents. They were involved in 15.2% of crashes.
- Most accidents (80.2%) occurred between April and October (prime bike riding seasons).
- Most accidents (76.9%) occurred on weekdays and between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m (30.3%).
- The most dangerous intersections (as of 2012) were
- Eastern Parkway and Bardstown Road (14)
- Bardstown Road and Grinstead Drive (11)
- Broadway and 2nd Street (8)
- East Broadway and South Jackson Street (8)
- Taylor Boulevard and Oleanda Avenue (6)
Bicycle accidents nationally:
- 58% of bicyclist deaths occurred at non-intersections at non-intersections.
- 45% of bicycle crashes occur in dark conditions.
- Most bicycle (and pedestrian) fatalities occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that more than 55% of all bicycle crashes are not included in police-reported crash data.
- Deaths among bicyclists younger than 20 have declined 90% since 1975, while deaths among bicyclists 20 and older have tripled.
- Bicyclist deaths in 2019 were highest during July (12%) followed by August (11%).
- In 2019, 78% of bicyclists were killed in urban areas.
- In 2019, 35% of bicycle deaths occurred at intersections.
- In 2019, 65% of bicycle deaths occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways.
- Adults aged 50-59 have the highest injury and fatality rates on bicycles.
- Males are 6 times more likely to die and 4 times more likely to be injured in bicycle collisions than females.
Types of injuries experienced by cyclists:
Because cyclists are not surrounded by a protective shell of metal and plastic, not to mention seatbelts and airbags, and because their vehicles weigh a fraction of the average car (4 tons), they are at a complete disadvantage when it comes to crashes. They are at risk of being thrown from their bicycles or crushed by other vehicles. This vulnerability results in injuries such as:
- Head injuries: traumatic brain injuries (TBI), skull fractures, concussions, intracranial hemorrhages
- Rib fractures and lung injuries
- Internal injuries: ruptured spleens, renal contusions, vascular perforations
- Broken bones
- Injured muscles or nerves
- Road rash
- As any parent knows, bicycle helmets are crucial pieces of safety equipment, but they are not just for children.
- Unfortunately, more than half the adults in the U.S. fail to wear helmets. Also, more than half of the cyclists killed in accidents in 2016 were not wearing helmets.
- One-third of the non-fatal bicycle injuries treated at emergency rooms each year are head injuries, but data from Virginia Tech shows that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 50%.
- Helmets can literally mean the difference between life and death or between a mild and severe brain injury.
- Recent studies have found that the almond-shaped “road” helmets are more effective than the rounder “urban style” helmets.
- MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) is a fairly new helmet safety feature with a low friction layer that allows movement (a slip plane) between the helmet’s liner and its shell. This reduces rotational motion transferred to the brain in case of an impact.
Kentucky bike regulations:
Kentucky on-road bicycle laws are contained specifically in Chapter 189 under Title XVI of KRS developed by the State legislature.
- KRS 189 defines bicycles as vehicles and, as such, grants them the right to use KY roadways. KRS 189.231 states that all vehicles SHALL (must) obey traffic controls applicable thereto, meaning stoplights and stop signs, for example. These statutes, in effect, grant bicyclists the right to the road but assigns them the responsibility to obey all laws and the controls found there.
- Helmets are not required (but are recommended).
- Riders should travel in the right-hand lane.
- Cars should only pass bicycles if there are at least three feet of space available. They should not move back to their lane until safely past the cyclist.
- Bicycles are required to have lights when operating in dark conditions. The lights must cast a beam of light at least 50 feet ahead and must be visible 500 feet ahead.
- Bicycles are required to have rear red reflector lights.
- Riders must sound an audible warning when passing pedestrians or other cyclists (this can be a bell or horn, or even a voiced warning).
- Brakes are required.
- A seat is required.
- The bike may only carry the number of people it is designed for.
- At least one hand is required to be on the handlebars at all times.
- It is prohibited to grab or attach oneself to other vehicles.
- S9 requires bicyclists to operate the same as motor vehicles except:
- Bicyclists may ride on the shoulder of the highway.
- Bicyclists must use bike lanes “whenever feasible.” Not, for example, if they are blocked, littered, or unsafe.
- Bicyclists may ride two abreast in a single highway lane.
Common causes of bicycle accidents:
- Sudden opening of a car door as a cyclist approaches a parked car.
- Side swiping: Sometimes, motor vehicle drivers don’t leave enough room between themselves and the cyclist at the side of the road
- Rear ending: This can happen at stop signs or intersections or when the driver isn’t paying close attention to the cyclist ahead.
- Crossing in front of a bike at an intersection: Cyclists use the rules of the road to pass through intersections. They may be making a legal left or right turn but be struck because a driver failed to see them in time.
- Right-hand turns: Drivers who are turning right may get too close to the corner where the cyclist is. They may “hook” the cyclist who is in their blind spot.
- Potholes or hard-to-spot obstacles or irregularities on the road’s surface.
- Small animals running in front of the bicycle’s wheels.
- Faulty equipment, especially brakes.
Ways to stay safe:
- Wear a helmet.
- Follow the rules of the road and share the road.
- Be predictable. Signal any turns consistently.
- Wear reflective clothing so that you are more visible.
- Stay alert and aware of your surroundings (such as potholes, railroad tracks, wet leaves, or gravel).
- Don’t lose control of your bike by traveling too fast to safely make a turn.
- Advocate for dedicated bike lanes, bike boxes at intersections, and safe street lights.
- Don’t ride where the lighting or visibility is poor.
- Do not ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Avoid or minimize sidewalk riding.
- Avoid baggy clothing or anything (like shoelaces) that could get stuck in your wheels.
- Plan your route carefully so that you pick the route with the least amount of traffic.
What to do if you are injured in a bicycle accident:
There are myriad reasons why you may have been injured in a bicycle crash, and many of them are not your fault.
If you were injured because of a road hazard:
- Get medical attention. Be sure to see to your health and any injuries as soon as possible.
- Report the incident. You will want to help ensure other cyclists are not injured by the same hazard and have a record of your incident.
- Take photographs or video recordings of the scene. Be sure to get multiple angles of the road hazard. Additionally, photograph your injuries.
- If other drivers or cyclists are involved, exchange information. Get insurance and contact information like you would in a car accident.
- Identify witnesses. If anyone saw what happened, get their contact information.
- Contact a personal injury attorney. Discuss your case with a qualified lawyer to learn the options you have when it comes to seeking compensation for your injury.
- Preserve evidence. Place your clothing, shoes, helmet, bicycle, and any other gear in a safe place. Take photographs of each item.
- Avoid posting about the accident. Social media broadcasting of an injury is tempting, especially when someone else is at fault. It is best to avoid sharing online about personal injury cases, however, as it can harm your case.
- Act quickly. Kentucky requires that certain notices be given to the Government, within 90 days of the accident.
If you were injured in a crash with another vehicle:
- Report the accident so that you have a police report.
- Take photographs if you can do so safely.
- Exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver.
- Collect contact information from any witnesses.
- Get medical attention (you may have internal injuries that aren’t visible) and keep all medical records.
- Document what happened as soon as possible (details and diagrams).
- Do not negotiate with insurance companies — leave that to the professionals.
- Work with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Have you been injured while on a bicycle?
Many people in Central Kentucky use their bicycles to commute to work and school. Others enjoy riding as a hobby or for exercise. Unfortunately, all riders in Kentucky are vulnerable to the same thing: dangerous motorists who fail to watch out for bikes or outright ignore riders’ right of way.
At McCoy & Sparks, PLLC, we like people that ride bikes and we stand up for the rights of riders who were hurt in bicycle accidents. We are a local law firm, but we get results statewide. Our lawyers live in Central Kentucky and have deep ties to the community. We take it personally when one of our neighbors is hurt in a preventable bicycle and motor vehicle crash. We will work tirelessly to make sure the insurance company treats you fairly — and we will go to court if it does not.
Bardstown’s local bike crash law firm
Bicycle accidents are serious no matter where you live. Here in Kentucky, the roads and highways present unique dangers to bike riders. The lack of dedicated bicycle lanes and relatively few street lights can increase the chances of a crash — especially when an approaching motorist is going too fast, is impaired by alcohol, or likes to drive too closely to riders.
If you were hit by a car or truck while riding your bicycle, you could be entitled to full compensation for your injuries. Common damages for which we help our clients get recovery include:
- Lost past and future wages
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost enjoyment of life
You don’t have to be in a car to recover against motor vehicle liability or homeowner’s coverage. We cannot prevent your accident from happening, but we can make sure the responsible parties make you as close to financially whole again as possible. This often means negotiating with the lawyers from the driver’s insurance company and going to court if negotiations do not result in an acceptable settlement.
Meet With An Attorney — No-Charge Case Evaluation
For a free case evaluation by one of our personal injury lawyers, contact McCoy & Sparks, PLLC, in Bardstown or send us an email to set up an appointment for a free consultation.