WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BICYCLE ACCIDENTS IN NYC

Bike accidents happen in New York more than you might think

Riding a bicycle can be a convenient, efficient and healthy way to navigate life in New York City. However, the city's traffic congestion can make riding a bit more perilous than in other parts of the country. As such, it is important for cyclists to understand how to stay safe, and what to do if they are injured in an accident with a motor vehicle.

New York City bicycle accident statistics

Over the last several years, New York City officials have put in a concerted effort to make cycling safer. In fact, according to the city's Department of Transportation, the risk of a cyclist experiencing a serious injury dropped by 75 percent between 2001 and 2013.

Still, bicycle accidents happen far more often than they should. According to DOT data, in 2013 (the most recent year for which statistics are available) 12 cyclists were killed in bicycle-motor vehicle crashes and another 3,884 were injured.

How to stay safe on your bike

While there's nothing cyclists can do to stop drivers from engaging in negligent behavior like speeding or distracted driving, there are some steps bicycle riders can take to help prevent accidents from happening. If you're going to ride your bike in New York City, consider the following:

  • Bike like a car: Cyclists are required to follow most of the same traffic laws as cars. This includes riding with the direction of traffic, signaling turns and coming to a complete stop at all red lights and stop signs. Cyclists should use bike lanes when they are available. If they aren't, cyclists have the right to ride in the middle of the lane on roads that aren't wide enough for a biker and a car to be safe side-by-side.
  • Make yourself seen: Wear brightly colored clothing. If you're going to be riding at night, make sure your front and back lights are working properly. In addition, try and establish eye contact with drivers before turning or changing lanes.
  • Be predictable: Ride in a straight line, and stay in your lane. Avoid weaving through cars in stalled traffic - weaving increases the chance that you might get hit by a driver who doesn't expect you to be there.
  • Focus on your ride: Save the earbuds for another time - you need to be able to hear everything around you in order to ride safely; music and phone calls are a dangerous distraction.

What to do if an accident happens

If an accident does happen, it is important for injured cyclists to understand that they have rights. Just as in a car accident, the cyclist should exchange contact information with the driver and should get the driver's insurance information.

In most cases, the driver's no-fault insurance will pay for medical care the cyclist incurs as a result of the accident. It may also pay for wage loss benefits if the cyclist is too injured to work. New York law requires every driver to carry a minimum of $50,000 in no-fault coverage.

Additionally, if the accident was caused by the driver's negligence you may be able to pursue a civil claim to recover compensation for other losses. Possible damages include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a New York City bicycle accident, it is important to act swiftly to protect your claim. The personal injury attorneys at Cohen & Cohen Law Group offer free consultations and can advise you of your rights and options for moving forward.