While bicyclists and vehicle drivers are required to share the road, it's inevitable that riders and drivers will end up in traffic accidents with one another. Let's look at some of the most common types of bicycle accidents involving other vehicles (whether cars, trucks, motorcycles, or even electric scooters).
One of the most common intersection accident scenarios is where a cyclist has a stop sign and a driver does not. After stopping, the cyclist rides out into the intersection in front of a car that has the right-of-way. Absent other factors, the cyclist is at fault for the crash. Most of these accidents may be attributable to the bicyclist's inability to accurately judge the distance and speed of approaching cars.
In another scenario, the cyclist has the right-of-way on a street without a stop sign, and the car approaches from a street that does have a stop sign. After stopping, the car drives out into the intersection, in front of the cyclist. Absent other factors, the accident will be attributed to the driver. If, however, the cyclist is riding against traffic (as happens in many of these sorts of collisions; more on this below), both the cyclist and the driver may be at fault.
The best way to avoid intersection accidents is to:
Learn more about bicycle-car accidents at intersections.
The "Idaho Stop"
A few states (including Idaho) give some leniency to bicycle riders at intersections, by allowing them to treat a stop sign as a "yield" sign, for example. But in many states, if a cyclist doesn't come to a complete stop at a stop sign or red light, the cyclist could be barred from recovering full compensation for his or her losses (damages), even if the motorist is mostly responsible for the accident.
Because bicycles are considered "vehicles" and must obey traffic laws, cyclists who ride against traffic are breaking the law. Not only that, riding against traffic is dangerous and accounts for a large portion of bike accidents. Drivers don't expect to see bikes coming toward them, and there is often little time to maneuver away from an imminent collision. Finally, wrong-way cyclists pose a risk to the cyclists riding with traffic. Avoiding accidents caused by wrong-way cycling is easy: don't do it.
In this type of accident, the motorist and bicyclist approach the intersection from opposite directions, and the motorist turns left, colliding with the cyclist. Usually the motorist doesn't see the cyclist or misjudges the cyclist's speed. In most cases, the driver of the car will be liable to the cyclist.
The cyclist can take safety measures to reduce the risk of these accidents:
There are several ways that accidents can happen when cars make right turns:
In most of these situations, the vehicle driver will be at fault. But again, regardless of fault, a cyclist can take measures to reduce the chance of such an accident.
The ultimate goal of safe cycling is to avoid accidents altogether. But cyclists who violate right-of-way rules also face another potential hardship—if an accident occurs, they might be found at fault. This means if the motorist is hurt or the car is damaged, the cyclist could face a personal injury lawsuit. And if the cyclist is hurt, he or she might not be able to recover for injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering.
To learn more about proving fault when bike accidents are caused by road hazards, including how to request the appropriate information from public entities, get How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim, by Joseph L. Matthews (Nolo). This easy-to-use guide covers all types of vehicle accidents.