Although bicycling is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to get around the city, sharing the roads with cars is risky business, and you could wind up seriously injured or killed in a collision.
The streets of New York are a chaotic mix of cars, trucks, buses, cyclists, and pedestrians. This means that crashes, many of them serious or deadly, are much more common here than in other places.
What’s more – the majority of bike crashes are caused by the motor vehicle. This means that you can do everything right and still get in an accident.
The good news?
Simply being aware of common New York driver behaviors linked to bike-car crashes can vastly decrease your risk of being involved in an accident. Today we share those with you along with what you can do to stay safe on these city streets.
Who’s at Fault for Bike-Car Collisions in NY?
When bikes and cars collide, the cyclist has far more to lose, and is more likely to suffer injuries. But who’s usually at fault?
The short answer is that it depends who you ask.
Studies across the country have shown that somewhere between 51% and 83.5% of bicycle crashes are caused by the driver of the car.
In fact, some drivers may not even realize that they’re at fault for a bike accident, so these numbers may be even greater.
Although it’s hard to pin down a number, it’s safe to conclude that more than half of bicycle-car collisions are caused by cars.
Driver Behaviors Linked to NY Bike Accidents
So, cars are responsible for a large proportion of bike accidents. This means that if you’re a New York cyclist, you can easily become involved in an accident through no fault of your own — even when you do everything right, a crash could be unavoidable.
However, understanding the driver behaviors that commonly cause bicycle accidents can help you know what to watch for and avoid.
One of the most common causes of bicycle accidents is cars making dangerous turns.
Turning Left. Drivers often turn left in front of oncoming bikers. This is especially dangerous when the driver underestimates the bicyclist’s speed. The car may strike cyclist’s right side, or cut off the cyclist, forcing them to hit the left side of the vehicle.
Turning Right. A car may overtake a bicyclist, then cut them off when making a right turn. This can cause the bicyclist to crash into the right side of the car.
In either direction, drivers often turn into an intersection without looking, and hit cyclists inside designated crosswalks.
When passing a bicycle, a motorist must give the bicyclist enough space. Cars that pass by too closely may sideswipe the cyclist or hit them with the side mirror.
Additionally, drafts created by larger vehicles moving at higher speeds can push a cyclist off the road or into oncoming traffic.
Disregarding Bike Lanes
New York sees a lot of bike traffic, and has placed bike lanes on many common bike routes to make things easier for bike riders.
Motorists not paying enough attention to the bike lane may drift, and hit cyclists. In some cases, bike lanes are shared between cars and bikes, and motorists either don’t see bikes or don’t give them the proper right-of-way.
Opening Car Doors
If a driver opens a car door in front of an oncoming bicyclist, this puts the cyclist at risk. If the cyclist is unable to stop in time, he or she may crash into the door, falling from the bike.
On busy New York streets, this often leaves cyclists in the path of oncoming traffic.
Overestimating a Cyclist’s Ability to Stop
In normal conditions, a car can come to a complete stop in five seconds. This takes much longer for cyclists, and cyclists can be thrown over the bike and into the street if they brake too suddenly.
Cars often overestimate a bicyclist’s ability to come to a stop, which can result in the bicycle crashing into the car, or the cyclist being thrown from the bike as a result of braking too suddenly.
Staying Safe While Riding a Bike in New York
Watching for and avoiding the above driver behaviors whenever possible can certainly help avoid wrecking your bike. Here are a few additional safety and riders’ ettiquette tips which can also help prevent New York bike accidents:
- Make yourself visible. Wearing bright or reflective clothing, and put lights on your bike.
- Use hand signals when you’re preparing to turn.
- Always wear a properly fitting helmet.
- Always inspect your bike before riding. Make sure that all parts are secure and working properly.
- Familiarize yourself with local traffic laws. You should follow the same rules as motorists.
- Before entering traffic, come to a complete stop. Look left, right, and left again before moving into the street.
The bottom line is crashes of all types, including bicycle crashes, are common in New York. If you’re a cyclist, taking extra care to ride safely and avoid dangerous drivers could save your life.