Preventing Common Biking Accidents

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Biking Accident in New Orleans

You have heard it said that the best defense is a good offense. Usually, this phrase is used when talking about sports, but it is also true in driving, especially when riding a bike. A cyclist is the best defensive driver when riding offensively. This means that cyclists should stay aware of everything happening around them.

Know what you are doing

When riding a bicycle in New Orleans, do not just ride it – operate it. What’s the difference?
Since going on offense means taking responsibility and being proactive, you must anticipate what might happen all around you to keep you safe and alive.

Biking on city streets is hazardous, and in New Orleans it can be deadly. New Orleans had nearly four bicyclist deaths per 100,000 people from 2007 to 2016, making it the second most dangerous city for bikers.

Still, biking is here to stay, and if you are going to join the thousands of bikers nationwide, you must develop a good offense. Here are some tips on how to do that.

Interactive Graph Showing Fatal Bike Accidents & Reported Bicycle Injuries by Parish

Know the laws that pertain to bicycles

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development publishes the laws pertaining to bicycles on its website. Knowing these laws will empower you to be the most defensive biker you can be. They include:
  • Safe passing laws
  • Helmet laws
  • The dooring law
  • The non-harassment law
  • Application of traffic laws to bicyclists
  • Where to ride
In addition to these specific laws, some “common sense” rules also apply, such as:
  • Riding on sidewalks
  • The “Idaho Stop” law
  • Proper lanes to use
Knowing what operators of motor vehicles are “supposed” to do is as important as knowing what you as a cyclist must do. Some of the following laws are specifically directed to operators of motor vehicles when they encounter a cyclist on the road.
When a motor vehicle is approaching a cyclist on a roadway from behind, the driver must exercise due care and must maintain a distance of at least 3 feet until safely past the bike.
Cyclists need to realize that a motor vehicle may pass in a “no-passing” zone but only when it is safe to do so.
A child under the age of 12 must wear a helmet when operating a bicycle or as a passenger on a bicycle. People who are at or above that age are not required to do so.
The law also requires that a child under 40 pounds or less than 40 inches tall may only be a passenger if properly seated and secured in a restraining seat.
Operators of motor vehicles are prohibited from opening or leaving open any door without ensuring that they are not endangering another vehicle or person. Of course, cyclists need to always be vigilant when traveling on any street or roadway so they can watch out for doors on parked cars suddenly opening ahead of them.
People have the right to not be harassed or have objects thrown at them while on a bicycle. The defensive bicyclist will anticipate and actively avoid such a situation.
Bicyclists have all the rights and duties that apply to any operator of a vehicle. They need to be especially aware that they do not have any special privileges, however.
This is especially important for cyclists to know. Cyclists need to always stay as close to the right of the roadway as safely as possible, except when passing another bicycle or vehicle going in the same direction. Of course, the “stay to the right” rule is waived when a cyclist is preparing to turn left or needs to avoid objects in the roadway. Cyclists should never ride more than two abreast except on paths or where roadways are reserved especially for bicycles.

Rules of thumb

Louisiana has no laws allowing or prohibiting riding on sidewalks. Cyclists should apply their defensive driving skills in these situations. If you cause injury to a pedestrian, you could be held responsible.
“Idaho stops” are when bicyclists can treat stop signs as yield signs and stop lights as stop signs. Louisiana does not treat bicyclists any different than motor vehicle operators when it comes to making a complete stop at a stop sign or a red light.

Avoiding crashes

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, two main types of crashes are falls and collisions with cars. Collisions with cars are by far the most serious, but cyclists can reduce the risk of all crashes.

Some basic facts

  • Most cyclist deaths happen between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
  • Three-fourths of deadly bicycle crashes occur in urban areas.
  • Males are eight times more likely than females to be killed in a bicycle crash.
  • Alcohol played a part in almost 40% of deadly bicycle crashes in 2017.
While these facts can be a bit scary, there are precautions you can take:
  • Keep your bike in good working order, especially the brakes.
  • Wear proper gear, like a helmet and a bright-colored shirt, and keep shoelaces tied and secure pant legs so they don’t get caught in the chain.
  • If you ride at night, have a headlight and good reflectors on the rear.

Drive defensively and predictably

You can never really anticipate what drivers are going to do, and you should never assume they see you or know what you are going to do. Motor vehicle drivers can be unpredictable.

However, that doesn’t mean you should be unpredictable as well. Be obvious in your actions and signal your intentions. By doing this, you lower your chances of being in an accident with a car. If you are injured, there is a biking accidents attorney in New Orleans you can call.

For bike accident legal help in Louisiana, get in touch with the the Lavis Law Firm. You can contact us online, or call us (866) 558-9151 to schedule a consultation.

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