Bicycle on the middle of a crosswalk after an accident

Eight Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

By David Hammond

Riding a bike is a great way to stay active and enjoy the outdoors in Syracuse. However, sharing the road with cars and trucks can lead to dangerous situations, accidents, and severe injuries. At CDH Law, our Syracuse bicycle accident lawyers have seen many cyclists come through our doors after an accident. This experience has taught us a lot about what causes these scary events.

In this blog, we’ll share the eight most common reasons why bicycle accidents happen. Whether it’s a car not seeing a cyclist or tricky road conditions, understanding these causes can help keep you safer on your next ride.

Distracted Driving

When drivers take their eyes off the road to check their phones, adjust the radio, or use a navigation device, they might not see a nearby cyclist. This lack of attention can lead to devastating accidents, especially at intersections or when drivers make turns. Cyclists, being much smaller and less protected than cars, have a high risk of severe injuries if a vehicle hits them. It’s crucial for both cyclists and drivers to stay alert and aware at all times to avoid these dangerous situations and keep our roads safe for everyone.

Failure to Yield the Right-of-Way

When drivers don’t yield the right-of-way, they can create dangerous situations for cyclists. This often happens at intersections, roundabouts, and when drivers make turns. They might not notice a cyclist or could misjudge their speed, leading them to pull out without leaving room for the cyclist or turn directly into the cyclist’s path. This can cause the cyclist to swerve unexpectedly, brake hard, or collide with the vehicle.

Unsafe Lane Changes or Turns by Vehicles

When drivers change lanes or turn without properly signaling or checking their blind spots, they risk colliding with a cyclist who is legally occupying the lane beside them. Cyclists might have little time to react, leading to crashes that can throw them off their bikes or into the path of oncoming traffic. Such maneuvers are particularly risky in busy urban areas where cyclists and vehicles share close quarters.

Opening Car Doors into a Cyclist’s Path

When drivers or passengers open their car doors without checking for oncoming cyclists, it can lead to a “dooring accident.” This occurs when a cyclist collides with an abruptly opened car door, potentially causing severe injuries or throwing the cyclist into traffic. Dooring accidents are common in urban areas where cars can park alongside cycling lanes or roads.

Poor Road Conditions or Hazards

Unlike cars, bicycles have thinner tires and less stability, making them more susceptible to accidents resulting from uneven surfaces. When cyclists encounter hazards like potholes, broken pavement, or debris in the road, they may lose control and crash or swerve suddenly into traffic to avoid them. Such situations can lead to devastating accidents, especially if there’s oncoming traffic or the cyclist is moving at a high speed.

Low Visibility Conditions

Low visibility conditions, such as nighttime cycling, fog, or heavy rain, significantly increase the risk of bicycle accidents. In such conditions, it’s harder for drivers to see cyclists and for cyclists to spot hazards in their path. Reflective gear, proper lighting, and brightly colored clothing are crucial so that cyclists can increase their visibility. However, even with precautions, reduced visibility can lead to close calls or accidents if drivers don’t pay extra attention.

Impaired Drivers

Impaired driving, including drunk or drug-impaired driving, is a significant danger to cyclists. An impaired driver’s reduced reaction times, impaired judgment, and altered perception significantly increase the risk of not seeing a cyclist or misjudging their speed and distance from the vehicle. This can lead to tragic accidents, as impaired drivers may swerve into bike lanes, run stop signs, or fail to yield the right-of-way.

Intersection Conflicts

Intersection conflicts occur when drivers and cyclists misunderstand each other’s intentions or ignore traffic signals. Cyclists may have the right-of-way, but drivers making a quick turn may not see them or could misjudge their speed, leading to collisions. Similarly, cyclists who don’t adhere to traffic signals can surprise drivers, causing abrupt and dangerous reactions.

Contact Our Syracuse Bicycle Accident Attorneys Today

If you sustained injuries from a negligent driver while riding your bike, the team at CDH Law can represent you in your fight for fair compensation. Call us today or complete our contact form for a free consultation.

About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.