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The bicycle accidents Washington DC has seen a rise in along with associated injuries have become an escalated issue in the Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia area over the past few years. A reason for this is that bicycles have become an increasingly popular mode of transportation, in direct correlation with the surge of interest in fitness, environmental awareness and charity events – especially in the Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. In 2012, Bicycling.com named Washington, DC and Arlington, VA two of the nation’s top 50 bike-friendly cities; Washington, DC ranked #4 and Arlington ranked #23. The cities are involved in a bike share system called Capital Bikeshare that now has over 20 thousand members throughout Washington, DC, Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland.
The increased number of bicycle riders on the streets also means that there is a greater risk of a bicycle accident occurring than ever before. Although the area has taken precautions, such as designated bike lanes and an increased number of bike trails, to ensure the safety of bike riders, hundreds of people are injured every year as the result of a bicycle accident. Bicycle riders are subject to some of the same traffic rules as motor vehicle operators, but the risk of injury or death in the event of an accident is greater, and the injuries themselves are often more severe. Although helmets can provide protection to the brain, there is little else about a bicycle that can offer protection to the rider if he or she is involved in an accident.
Some additional measures can be taken to prevent bicycle accidents. These measures include:
Although taking these precautions can help prevent a bicycle accident, bicycle accidents are still likely to occur for a number of reasons, including collision with another motor vehicle, being struck by a car door of a parked vehicle, defective bicycle parts, and unsafe road or sidewalk conditions.If you have more questions about bicycle or car rules, turn to the car accident lawyer DC trusts.
Recently, the amount of serious and fatal bicycle accidents in Washington, D.C. has grown. Between 2009 and 2010, for example, D.C. bicycle crashes jumped from 353 to 436. In the same time period, fatal bicycle accidents rose from 264 to 336.
Another reason for the increase of bicycle riders is the District Department of Transportation (DDOT)’s bikesharing program, Capital Bikeshare, which is in partnership with Arlington County, the City of Alexandria, Montgomery County, Fairfax County, and Prince George’s County.
Capital Bikeshare’s popularity has greatly contributed to the D.C. bicycling boom. It has the second largest number of bicyclists on the streets, after Boston.
And while there are more bicyclists on the road than ever before, there are more distracted drivers than ever before, which means more bicycle accidents than ever before. Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are more distracted than ever, likely because of texting, dialing a phone number. As of 2013, One of every five car crashes involved a distracted driver, a 10 percent jump from 2012.
Distracted Cycling is also a major problem in Washington DC. You may be a pedestrian who has been hit by a distracted cyclist have been hit. Several states and municipalities have attempted to include bicyclists in laws that prohibit distractions like texting, talking or listening to music through headphones. Cities like Chicago and Philadelphia outlaw cyclists from using handheld devices while they ride their bikes.
However, not everyone is gung-ho to crack down on cyclists, despite the increase in bicycle accidents. Lawmakers in other states have attempted to create stricter laws on distracted cycling but have been shot down. In California, Oregon, New York, and Virginia distracted bicycling bills have failed likely as a result of distracted bicycling being a relatively new concept.
Lawmakers in the District of Columbia launched a safety awareness campaign specifically aimed at reducing the number of fatal traffic accidents on D.C. roads, aiming a large portion of its efforts at reducing bicycle fatalities and bicycle-related serious injuries. To help minimize accidents, the District has Installed pedestrian signals in more than 95 percent of signalized intersections, there are mandatory helmets for bicyclists under age 16 and increased bike safety training for thousands of DC area children every year.
In 2015, Mayor Muriel Bowser first implemented her Vision Zero initiative in 2015. However, traffic fatalities have steadily increased since. In 2018, there were 36 traffic fatalities. As of July 23, 2019, there have been 14 traffic-related fatalities.
Bicyclists can also take precautions to be safer through the bustling DC area streets. Do not text and cycle. If you must text, pull off to a safe place and use your phone. If you need to talk on the phone, you can also pull off the road. Do not use headphones are earbuds so that you can hear traffic, cars nearby or car horns during your ride. Do not drink alcohol while riding your bicycle. But for those who do not heed that advice, the price to pay can be steep…
In 2015, there was a national average of more than two cyclists being killed by motorists. Despite all these deaths, homicide charges or even involuntary manslaughter charges are rare. In the D.C. area, less than half of fatal accidents involving cyclists since 1971 resulted in any charge whatsoever, and sadly the average time served for those few who are convicted is only about 15 months.
If you or someone you know was involved in a bicycle accident in Washington, DC, Maryland, or Virginia, contact Cohen & Cohen, P.C. to speak with one of our bicycle accident attorneys right away. Our bicycle attorneys will work to investigate your rights as a bicycle rider and fight to receive the compensation you need and deserve to cover the costs of your damages and injuries.