Bicycle rides bring back fond memories of lazy childhood days spent pedaling around the neighborhood, riding with friends and biking on family outings. It was not uncommon to see two parents on bicycles with a line of children riding behind them like ducklings.
Today, bicycle riding in public spaces has increased as adults commute to work. They take advantage of fuel-free transportation and daily exercise. Cities provide marked bike paths along most urban streets. Many cities and towns allow bicyclists to ride on sidewalks and motor vehicle roads.
Myth #1: Bicycle riders follow different laws than vehicle drivers
Laws that apply to trucks, cars and other motor vehicle traffic also govern bicycle riders. While there are a few exceptions written into city codes, the majority of bike riding activities must conform to regular driving rules. Some motorists, on the other hand, may feel disgusted to learn the true entitled status of bicyclists. Drivers often view bicycle riders as annoying guests on the pavement when, in reality, bicyclists generally have the same road travel privileges as motorists. Bluntly stated, bicycles share most road privileges equally with vehicles.
Just like reckless drivers, there are bicyclists who shoot through stop signs and weave in and out of traffic. Sidewalk bicyclists may race past a pedestrian with no warning. It is disconcerting for a person ambling along a sidewalk to realize that, had she taken one step to the left, she could have been side-swiped by a speeding bicyclist late for work.
Myth #2: Bicycle-pedestrian accidents are uncommon
Unfortunately, pedestrian-bicycle collisions are not all that rare. Most of them are not reported, but they can result in personal injury. Riders who whiz through crosswalks do so at their peril, and their risks of causing severe injury are real. While most pedestrians cautiously look both ways to make sure a car isn’t speeding toward an intersection, they seldom expect a crosswalk accident caused by a bicycle rider. Bicycles can move up to 20 mph, faster than people realize. They seemingly appear out of nowhere and, for both the cyclist and pedestrian, it can be too late to avoid a collision.
Myth #3: Injuries from bicycle-pedestrian accidents are not serious
A pedestrian usually sustains the worst damage in a crash, including concussion, traumatic brain injury, paralysis from spinal cord compression, broken bones, crush injuries, significant lacerations, burns and accompanying mental conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks or other long-term psychological trauma. A cyclist in California ran a red light and fatally injured a senior man in a crosswalk. The victim’s case prosecutor won a felony manslaughter conviction against the bicyclist.
Pedestrians injured by a careless bicyclist should view the accident the same as if a car hit them and notify the police. Tacoma, Washington, police are part of the Police Data Initiative which records accidents in a national database. A negligent bicycle rider is legally accountable for injury caused to a pedestrian.