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High Stakes & Tire Spokes: Bike Accidents

High Stakes & Tire Spokes: Bike Accidents

by George W. Ilchert

Riding on a bike or a motorcycle gives the rider a kind of freedom that you just can’t get while driving: the wind in your hair, the feeling of control, and the thrill of the ride. But all benefits must come a cost, and you are more vulnerable on a bicycle or a motorcycle than you are in a car.

In today’s world, people are more likely than ever to choose a form of transportation that doesn’t involve public transit. Whether it be a car, motorcycle, or bike, we can expect to see more vehicles on the road, as the train cars go empty. Of course, not everyone can afford to own a motorcycle, and they may not have the space to store a bicycle. In those cases, vehicle-sharing services are on the rise, especially in the crowded boroughs of New York City. We can expect Citibikes and other bicycle renting services to be more popular than ever. For those looking for more power, there are even motorized scooter services like Revel (involved in an accident with a Revel scooter? Read more here).

With the sudden surge of cars, scooters, motorcycles, and bicycles on the road, accidents are bound to happen. As renting services do not require any training, be on the lookout for inexperienced riders. Injuries could be as simple as scraped knees, but with the crowded roads, they could be as serious as totaled cars, broken bones, and worse. To make matters worse, rental-riders are likely to flaunt the rules of the road, speeding across lanes and riding on sidewalks, causing danger for other drivers and pedestrians alike.

As one vehicle is operated solely by peddling and the other with a powerful motor, the rules for bicycles and motorcycles are different. The most important danger of riding either a motorcycle or a bicycle is twofold: the rider is not paying attention to the traffic around them, or a motor vehicle is not paying attention to the bicycles and motorcycles around them. In this article we’ll review the differences and the important facts to note when in an accident involving a bicycle or a motorcycle.

Rules for Bicycles

Though bicycles are not motor vehicles, they still have to follow rules of the road, though modified. This may surprise you, as bicycle riders often ride with utter abandon, and ignore all posted signs and traffic patterns.

The following are a summary of regulations that bicycle riders must follow, according to the nyc.gov website:

  • Ride in the street, not on the sidewalks (unless rider is age 12 or younger and the bicycle’s wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter).
  • Ride with traffic, not against it.
  • Stop at red lights and stop signs. Obey all traffic signals, signs and pavement markings, and exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians, motor vehicles or other cyclists.
  • Use marked bike lanes or paths when available, except when making turns or when it is unsafe to do so.
  • Use a white headlight and a red taillight, as well as a bell or horn and reflectors.

Most bicycle accidents are caused by motor vehicles not allowing for the bike rider to have enough room to maneuver. However, they can also be caused by road damage, like a pothole or other road defect, that may not severely affect a motor vehicle but could mean serious damage for a bicycle and its operator.

There is one very important distinction between bicycle accidents and motorcycle accidents. When struck by a motor vehicle, bicycle riders are entitled to no-fault benefits and motorcycle riders are not. Article 51 of the New York State Insurance Law, often referred to as the “No-Fault Law”, excludes motorcycles from being defined as a “motor vehicle” for the purpose of determining coverage requirements. The operator of the motorcycle cannot obtain no-fault insurance coverage for their damages in an accident.

Rules for Motorcycles

Motorcycles must follow all rules that a motor vehicle must obey, including insurance with at least the minimum amount of coverage. Motorcycles must drive in the normal car lanes and cannot utilize the bicycle lanes. Because of the power of the engine in a motorcycle, it is not safe or legal for them to share the bicycle lane with non-motorized vehicles.

Accidents are always a danger for anyone on the road, but there is increased danger for motorcycles. Though they can reach the same speeds as a car, the rider has much less protection than the driver or passenger in a car. With no seatbelts, airbags, or other safety features, motorcycles leave their riders extremely exposed. A collision for a person riding a motorcycle is much more likely to have more serious injuries than the same collision involving a passenger in a car.

Injured? Call Hach & Rose, LLP

The attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP are extremely knowledgeable about the ins and outs of bicycle and motorcycle accidents. You should not enter into any settlements regarding your accident without contacting an experienced attorney first. To be sure you are getting the compensation you deserve, it is imperative you contact a personal injury attorney who will fight for your rights. Partner Michael Rose achieved an $8,000,000 jury verdict for passenger on motorcycle involved in collision with car, which is just one of the impressive results that the Hach & Rose, LLP team has been able to achieve for their clients. Ready for an attorney who will fight aggressively for your rights? Call us at (212) 779-0057 to set up a free consultation today.

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