It’s summer! The bicycle riders are out. In the suburbs there are one set of rules to remember and in the city there are additional rules. Of course the law is the law: wear a helmet, learn and obey traffic laws and you will resolve most potential safety problems. Bicycle accidents in Massachusetts are unfortunately all too common, especially in the summer. Many victims don’t know that there is often insurance coverage for victims of Massachusetts bicycle accidents.
Car doors are a problem. We have successfully resolved many cases in which a driver, or passenger, opens a car door into traffic, “dooring” the biker. Who is responsible and what can you do to avoid such injuries. In Massachusetts, the laws of negligence would generally give full responsibility, or liability, to the person opening the vehicle door. Why? Because they are opening a door, or obstacle, into traffic. To avoid this type of collision the only thing you can do is to ride wide to the left of all parked, or parking, vehicles. This may be too dangerous because of vehicles to your left. In that case, it’s too dangerous. Being doored by a vehicle is the one of the most common causes of biker death.
How can you prevent these injuries if you are a biker? First, wear a helmet. No matter what, this protects your head and, if you are hit, will offer protection. We mention it at the outset and we mention it here, for this safety list. It’s what the pros recommend and it’s an easy habit to get into.
Second, use lights and reflectors, even in the daytime. Lights alert drivers to a moving vehicle. At night this is a no brainer, but in the daytime, many motor vehicle drivers are distracted, often by normal distractions such as the sun, another vehicle, a bump in the road, etc. A light gives them a warning. Headlamps are great because you can focus the light beam on the vehicle so they can see you.
Third, if you are not sure the driver in a vehicle sees you, try waving. Drivers see an arm waiving. It’s distracting in a positive way.
Fourth, slow down. If you don’t think a driver sees you, slow down or stop.
Fifth, don’t go from sidewalk to a road crosswalk on a bike. Drivers are not looking for fast moving vehicles entering a crosswalk.
Sixth, don’t ride against traffic. It’s confusing to drivers and illegal in Massachusetts and a dangerous biking habit.
Seventh, beware of motor vehicle blind spots. Stopping to the side of a vehicle, passing on the right, you know, the blind spot where the driver is not looking, can’t see, and won’t see you if he turns right and you are right there!
Eighth, be careful passing on the right. Vehicles turn right. They may accelerate faster than you. If you are passing on the right, and were in the driver’s blind spot a few seconds ago, they won’t see you.
Ninth, don’t move into traffic, to your left, without checking and double checking.
After successfully representing victims of bicycle accidents in Massachusetts for over 25 years, I hope that some of the above helps keep our readers safe. If you are a victim, call us at 617-227-7423 for a free legal consultation.