Increased Risk of Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents during COVID-19
Pedestrians and bikes are everywhere, unless you live in a cave – and even if you do, you have probably figured out by now that our local government has issued a “stay at home” order. These orders essentially leave us confined to our homes for most of the day. Without getting into the enforceability or legality of these “orders,” one exception to them is leaving your home to walk or ride a bike for exercise.
Part of my daily quarantine survival routine is getting out to ride my bike. Through the years, I have had an off-and-on relationship with my bike. I have ridden nearly every big road ride in Texas, from the Shiner BASH to the Hotter than Hell Hundred. I have ridden my mountain bike countless mile through Warda, Rocky Hill Ranch, Memorial Park, and the Ant Hills. I consider myself to be an experienced rider. As a bike rider, I am familiar with the rules of the road. As an injury attorney, I am familiar with traffic laws.
I have put in countless miles riding through the villages of Kingwood since the start of the quarantine. I am not the only one taking advantage of this exception to the stay at home “order.” I have seen countless individuals and families out riding bikes and walking around Kingwood. On one ride last week, I almost had three separate collisions with other people on the road. One involved a young girl cutting across a road from the Greenbelt trails. I was cruising along at about 18 miles per hour when she shot out right in front of me. I had to lock up my wheels to avoid hitting her. She gave me such little time to react that had I been in a car, I might have hit her.
The second involved a middle-aged man riding his bike with his wife. The wife decided to turn right, off the road, and onto a Greenbelt trail. The husband missed the turn and decided to make a U-turn in the middle of the street. He started his turn without warning and without looking. I was riding up behind him, getting ready to pass them right as he started his turn. He turned right in front of me, and I had to lock up my tires to avoid the collision. Again, had I been in a car, I might have hit him.
In the past couple of weeks there have been several auto-pedestrian and auto-bicycle collisions in and around Kingwood. Riding a bike on the road always come with a certain degree of danger. Bike riders should familiarize themselves with the rules of the road and should always ride with a heightened sense of awareness. You should always pay attention to everything that is going on around you and always assume that the driver of a vehicle does not see you. Even if you have the right of way, you should try to make eye contact with the driver of a vehicle to ensure that they see you before proceeding.
If possible, you should try to outfit your bike with flashing lights to help drivers see you. This is especially true if you are riding near dark or on major roads like Kingwood Drive, Northpark, Mills Branch, Russel Palmer, Woodland Hills, or West Lake Houston Parkway. You should always wear a helmet when riding and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return home.
With more inexperienced riders on the road right now, drivers need to use extreme caution when passing a bike in Kingwood. Inexperienced riders do not have the same awareness as experienced riders. They might turn right out in front of you without even knowing that you are there. They could lose control and swerve out into the road in front of you. I can tell you from personal experience that these kinds of riders are out on the road in significant numbers right now.
Reach out to Our Firm Today
At Haines Law, P.C., we have represented both auto-pedestrian accident and auto-bicycle collision victims through the years. We obtained a significant recovery for a senior citizen who was hit on his big wheel trike returning home from the grocery store. We obtained a significant recovery for a college student who was knocked off her bike when someone opened the door of a parked car right in front her, causing her to flip forward off her bike and over the car door. While the image of that one might be slightly entertaining, her injuries were fairly significant. We also obtained a significant recovery for a young girl who was struck by a car while walking home from school. Unfortunately, we have also represented the surviving family members of man who was killed when he was stuck by a car when walking across the street.
I can tell you from that experience that a driver who kills or significantly injures another human being by striking them with their car does not escape unscathed. Even if the driver avoids physical injury, they are affected by the experience for the rest of their lives. One of the worst things I have had to do, as an injury attorney, is to take the deposition of a truly remorseful defendant who killed or significantly injured one of my clients. They carry the emotional scars and guilt of what they have done, and it truly affects the quality of their lives. You do not want to be the cause of the significant injury or death of one of our neighbors here in Kingwood.
During the coming weeks or months, as we remained confined to our homes, please be aware that there are more people out walking and riding on the roads. Please slow down when passing bikes and pedestrians on your way to the grocery store. Please be aware that inexperienced bike riders are unpredictable. Please do your part to keep Kingwood roads safe for bikes and pedestrians. Call our team if you have any more questions.