The weather is finally warming up, just in time for National Bike Month!
Bike ridership for commuting has risen by nearly 40 percent in the past decade and more and more cities are implementing ride-share bicycle programs for residents and tourists alike.
Bicycle Accident Statistics
In 2016, bicycle/vehicle wrecks climbed to a 35-year high, with 840 bike riders killed the year before. Thousands more, usually young men, are injured.
Black and Hispanic cyclists’ fatality rates are 30 percent and 23 percent higher than white cyclists, often because these riders lack protected bike lanes and must use poorly designed streets in their neighborhoods.
Most bicycle fatalities (61 percent) occurred on roadways, while 28 percent happened at intersections.
What to Do If There’s a Bike Accident
If you witness a crash or see a driver clip a bicyclist and drive off, find a safe place to stop. Once you make sure everyone is okay, call 911. Calling 911 is important for two reasons: the bicycle rider receives immediate treatment from medical professionals and a police report is filed.
Insurance companies often require an on-the-scene police report before providing coverage for a bicycle accident in Georgia.
And if you’re the driver who hit or clipped a bicyclist (or if a bicyclist crashed into your car) you are required by law to pull over and wait for law enforcement to arrive. Fleeing the scene is the worst thing you could do in such a situation.
How to Stay Safe While Bicycling in Georgia
- When passing a bike rider, slow down and put three or more feet between your vehicle and them. This is the safest and politest way to keep bike riders from harm.
- A bike is considered a vehicle and therefore the rider must follow the rules of the road (i.e., obeying traffic lights/signs, yielding to pedestrians, signaling turns, etc.).
- If a lane is too narrow to share, you may need to ride your bike in the middle.
- When riding next to parked cars, always be on the lookout for opening doors.
- Attach a white front light (which can illuminate up to 300 feet) and a red backlight to help you see at night and keep you visible. It’s also a good idea to wear bright colors and/or a reflective vest.
- Although adults are not required to wear helmets while riding a bike in Georgia, it is better to wear one in case of an accident to avoid suffering a potential concussion or traumatic brain injury.
The Future of Biking in Atlanta
In a national survey by PeopleForBikes, almost half of respondents said they would ride more if higher-quality bike lanes and paths existed in their areas.
People want to bike but they also want safer places to bike ride across Georgia. Fewer than five percent reported feeling comfortable riding on streets without a bike lane, while more than 80 percent said they would be willing to ride on streets or trails with separated or protected bike lanes.
To ensure bike riders’ safety as well as address transportation issues within the city, Atlanta’s City Transportation Committee is looking into developing an Atlanta DOT or Department of Transportation and Mobility (the name has yet to be finalized).
Atlanta has also partnered with the PATH Foundation to construct around 300 miles of PATH trails across the state. Currently, a 284-foot bike and pedestrian bridge overlooking I-285 at Church Street is being installed to help people avoid crossing the busy intersection while traveling the trail between Stone Mountain Park and Centennial Olympic Park.
Gwinnett County is planning to construct a 200-mile PATH and trail system to connect distant municipalities, parks, and shopping centers.
And the city of Brookhaven is building the North Peachtree Creek Greenway, a 12.5-mile trail which runs parallel to I-85 and Peachtree and Nancy Creeks. The new greenway will connect to the Atlanta Beltline and to trails under planning or construction in Chamblee, Buckhead, Doraville, and Dunwoody.
Bike ridership continues to grow and Atlanta and its surrounding communities are beginning to recognize the importance of protecting bike riders by providing separate areas and more trails for bicyclists and pedestrians to enjoy.
Atlanta Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you or someone you know has been hurt in a bicycle wreck in Georgia, please don’t hesitate to give the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates a call at 770-934-8000. We’re personal injury experts who will defend you against the insurance company. Our team of attorneys is here to answer your legal questions and get you the medical and financial help you need to get through this difficult time.
Atlanta Bicycle Coalition
GA Highway Safety
People for Bikes