Cyclist Rights – A Matter of Life and Death

Cyclists’ rights should be important to everyone, not just bicyclists. When people choose to ride, rather than drive, they help reduce traffic congestion and pollution. ChicagoBikes.org, Chicago’s cyclists’ rights program, reasons, “In addition to providing a convenient alternative to driving, cycling reduces traffic congestion, promotes a cleaner environment, creates healthier communities, and improves the quality of life in our neighborhoods.” A major hindrance to the cycling community is that too many drivers fail to see the bigger picture when it comes to helping cyclists ride safely.

Cyclist Rights

Bicycle Safety Advocate Killed While Cycling

One example lies in a story reported by Lehigh Valley’s local newspaper, The Morning Call. The same day Pennsylvania’s cyclist protection law went into effect requiring drivers to allow four feet of space between their cars and cyclists, a rider was struck and miraculously escaped injury on the Fahy Bridge in Bethlehem. This fortunate near miss follows the tragic December death of outspoken cyclist activist, Patrick Ytsma who was struck by a car on the same bridge. Ytsma died four days after the accident from his injuries.

Another serious collision was reported by San Diego local news station, Channel 10. In that accident, cyclist Grant Fisher was struck while riding on his lunch break. An elderly driver crashed into Fisher’s bicycle, pinning him underneath. An active lover of the outdoors, Fisher is now paralyzed from the waist down. He may never walk again, much less spend his lunch breaks cycling. “I went from one life to another. I went from able body, going to work, riding my bicycle, to dealing with a new lifestyle,” Fisher told reporters.

Cities Step Up to Protect Cyclists

Fortunately, cities are beginning to take cyclists rights more seriously. In Chicago, the city is working on projects to install protected lanes for cyclists. According to ChicagoBikes.org, “Protected bike lanes provide bicyclists exclusive space in the roadway by separating bicyclists from motor vehicle traffic with on-street parking, flexposts, and/or raised medians.”

Cities that fail to recognize the rights of cyclists could face serious difficulties. The New York Times reports that New York City faces a class action lawsuit filed by cyclists who complain of unfair out-of-lane citations and ticketing from police. Cyclists say they are just looking to avoid cabs doors opening into their paths and vehicles cutting them off while they ride in their lanes. Riders in the case hope to bring greater awareness of cyclists’ rights, fairer treatment and fewer riding injuries.

Helmets for Children Cyclists in Need

State governments can also help cyclists help themselves by instituting bike helmet laws. Laws vary state by state for helmet requirements, and areas with mandatory helmet laws report fewer fatalities than those without. Our law firm invests in bike safety by providing a free helmet program for children called “Helmets for Kids.” Through this program, we are able to provide helmets to children whose parents cannot afford them. If you or someone you know lives in the state of Virginia and needs a helmet for a child, please fill out the form on this page.

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If you or a cyclist you care about was injured by a motorist, contact our office. Our experienced attorneys are available to offer a free consultation to help you decide if you should pursue a claim for damages. The law limits the time allowed for such claims, so it is important you contact our office soon.

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