When you get in the car, logically you know that you have a chance of getting in a car accident, however small that chance is. What about when you get on a bicycle? Even if you are just going for a ride in your neighborhood, bicycles share the road with cars, and so there is a chance of getting into an accident.
Is a Cyclist Considered a Pedestrian?
The short answer here is that it depends. A pedestrian is a person traveling outside their vehicle on foot or using other modes of transportation like roller skates, skateboards, wheelchairs, or tricycles. Whether a bicyclist is considered a pedestrian varies depending on city and where the accident took place. In the Phoenix valley, a bicyclist is generally considered a pedestrian when they are following pedestrian rules like riding their bikes on a sidewalk or crossing the street using pedestrian crosswalks. They are considered a separate category when they are driving in bicycle lanes and turning with traffic. For more information on pedestrian accidents, check out our Pedestrian Accidents page.
How Common Are Cycling Accidents?
In 2020, there were 1,275 cycling accidents across Arizona, with the vast majority (1,210) taking place in Maricopa County. This makes up approximately 0.78% of the accidents for that year. However, while these accidents may not be common, they have a high injury rate, with almost 97% of cyclists being killed or injured.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?
- Distracted Driving: While driving while distracted can be dangerous for other vehicles, it can be dangerous for bicyclists as well. Additionally, cyclists using a crosswalk while being distracted by a cell phone or other devices may also be at increased risk for accidents. Vice versa, if the bicyclist is distracted, they may enter traffic unknowingly.
- Buffer: As the driver of a car, it is extremely important to leave a buffer of at least 3 feet around the bicycle on all sides. Not only does this make it more likely for the car to hit the bicycle, it leaves the cyclist with fewer options to avoid collisions.
- Speeding: Speeding increases a driver’s stopping time while decreasing the amount of time they have to make decisions. Additionally, high speed accidents are much more likely to result in fatalities or serious injuries.
- Weaving Through Traffic: Drivers who weave through traffic are likely speeding, which means they have less reaction time. Also, they may not be able to see cyclists as well as other drivers and have less options to make evasive maneuvers to avoid a crash. Lastly, they may use bicycle lanes to get around traffic that is in their way.
- Lane Changes: Even if a driver is not making weaving through traffic, even making one unsafe lane change can result in an accident. Accidents when making a lane change usually occur when a car moves into a bike lane without looking to make sure the lane is clear.
- Turning Without Looking: Even if a driver has a green light, they are still responsible for watching out for pedestrians and cyclists at intersections. Particularly in places where cyclists act like pedestrians, they may cross with pedestrians.
- Red-Light Runners: While it is always dangerous to run a red light, stop sign, or yield sign, it becomes even more so for a bicyclist when a car runs those traffic signs. The bicyclist may think they have the right of way, and so may not look for oncoming traffic in time to make evasive maneuvers.
- Driving Under the Influence: For many of the same reasons that driving under the influence causes other accidents, it increases the chance of bicycle accidents.
- Low Visibility: At nighttime, the number of bicycle accidents generally increases. When riding at night, cyclists should always wear white or light-colored clothing to increase visibility, as well as using a light on their bike.
What Do You Do If a Car Hits You While Cycling?
- Move out of the street or road onto a sidewalk or other safe place. Even though you might be angry, upset, and in pain, try to remain as calm as possible even though it may be difficult.
- Keep the driver there. If the driver leaves before police arrive to get a statement and without identifying themselves, it is called a hit-and-run accident. First thing, try to take a photo of the license plate and get the driver’s name, in case they leave later.
- Call the police. The first thing you should do is call the police from the scene of the accident, even if you don’t think you are injured.
- Collect information and document the accident. You should get a report from the other driver stating what happened and take photos of the accident. When taking pictures, make sure to have a timestamp on them, document any visible injuries, the road, the bike, and anything else you can think of.
- If you are too panicked to do any of this, ask someone for help. This is a witness, and they can help you gather information and take photos. They can also help by giving their statement of what happened.
- Go to the hospital to get checked out, even if you are not sure if you are injured. Adrenaline may delay pain, so you may not even know what injuries you have.
- If you are injured, look for a personal injury lawyer who can help get you compensation.
Hospitals Near You
Depending on where you are in the Valley, here’s a list of some hospitals that may be close to you.
Chandler Regional Medical Center
Mercy Gilbert Medical Center
Arizona General Medical Center
Deer Valley Medical Center
John C. Lincoln Medical Center
Abrazo Arrowhead Campus