More and more people are using bicycles in urban areas to commute, shop or visit friends and family as well as to exercise their legs and lungs. Lighter bicycles, more gears for easier hill climbing, and no worries about parking, traffic jams, tickets or auto insurance account for some of the increase in usage. However, bicycles and urban traffic also mean risks to bike riders. This fact of city life is no less evident than in the city of Cambridge that has decided to do something about its bike safety problem.
Cambridge Bike Accident Lawyer
Cambridge, a city of about 109,700 people, experienced 263 bicycle accidents last year, an extraordinary statistic for a city of this size. One particular area that has had an extremely high incidence of accidents between motorists and bicycles is Inman Square, in Cambridge. One person who regularly bikes in this area has referred to it as a “dance of death.”
What makes this area so hazardous is its strange configuration where 5 streets merge into one. The city council decided to crack down by banning left turns at this intersection as a temporary measure, at least, before deciding whether, how and when to reconfigure this intersection so that cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists can all live in harmony.
Specifically, the ban pertains to:
- No left turn from Hampshire Street southbound to Cambridge Street eastbound
- No left turn from Hampshire Street northbound to Cambridge Street westbound
- No left turn from Cambridge Street westbound to Antrim Street southbound
The ban has been in effect since November 3, 2016. There are also 9 pedestrian walkways at Inman Square with 2 MTBA bus lines traversing the intersection. City officials will be studying the left turn ban and its impact on safety.
The move to take action in the city was also prompted by the Boston Cyclists Union, a bicycle advocacy group that has been pushed for more bike lanes and other measures to protect cyclists throughout the Boston metropolitan area.
Bicycle Safety and Accidents
Motorists need to be more aware of cyclists in their midst. Cities and towns throughout the US are incorporating designated bike lanes, traffic signals for cyclists and road markings to allow for and to protect bicyclists.
There are some things you can do to protect yourself when riding:
- Get lights that flash all the time on your helmet or bike. You are required to have lights at night when riding but making yourself conspicuous at all times can’t hurt. Nevertheless, wear reflective clothing.
- Assume that motorists do not see you unless you make eye contact.
- Get a bell or horn or just wave at a motorist if you cannot make eye contact when a car is approaching you or is about to make a turn in front of you. Many countries actually require bells on bicycles.
- Slow down. Speeding and weaving through traffic only increases the chances of being hit by a car. You also want to be able to stop quickly.
- Do not ignore traffic signals and signs. Stop at a red light and at a stop sign. You can be cited just as a motorists for failing to do so.
- Do not ride on sidewalks. It is illegal in many areas and it threatens pedestrians as well.
- Wear a helmet
- Refrain from wearing headphones or otherwise riding while distracted, including using a cell phone
Motorists also need to follow basic commonsense when driving with cyclists on the roadway. Some of these measures include:
- Motorists are not allowed in the bike lanes unless making a right turn and need to look out for cyclists before entering these lanes. Drivers also must understand that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists on the public highways.
- Intersections like Inman Square, Cambridge are always hazardous. Drivers must look for pedestrians and cyclists before initiating a turn and should signal early so that cyclists are aware that a car in front of them will be turning.
- Give a cyclist at least 3 feet of clearance. 20 states, but not Massachusetts, have such laws. It is nonetheless a way of giving a cyclist some reassurance and avoids close calls.
- If there are bike lanes, assume that cyclists will use them as they will suddenly appear. Do not open your car door before looking behind you to see if a bike is approaching.
Damages in a Bike Accident Case
If injured in a collision with a motor vehicle, you are entitled to compensation from the driver’s auto liability policy as well as no-fault benefits. To recover for other damages, including pain and suffering and emotional distress, you do need to prove the motorist was negligent. This can be demonstrated by eyewitness testimony, location of the collision and possible video surveillance if at an intersection that has cameras installed. Drivers who make left turns at intersections and strike a cyclist or who suddenly enter bike lanes well before the turn are likely to be culpable. You will need an experienced Cambridge bike accident lawyer to represent you in an injury claim.
Damages in bike accidents can include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future wage losses
- Lost earning capacity
- Diminished quality of life
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Contact Cambridge bike accident lawyer Neil Burns. Knowledge of the city and its ordinances, the insurance laws as well as motorist and bicyclist behavior are instrumental in achieving a satisfactory resolution of your injury claim. Call his office today for a free evaluation of your bike injury claim.