Safety on the Road: Understanding Basic Bicycle Maintenance

Bicycling in Florida (and all around the world) can be enjoyed on so many different levels. You may appreciate riding your bike to work as an economical means of transportation, not to mention a more rapid one in areas with traffic congestion. Your children might ride their bikes to school in the mornings, and home in the afternoons, and you may enjoy riding as a group during your leisure time on weekends—or luxuriate in solitary day trips throughout the state of Florida, where there are plenty of places to enjoy traveling on two wheels while also taking in nature and even some wildlife here and there.

No matter how old you are, it is vital to take the proper safety precautions. You should be dressed in bright colors, add as many additional lights and reflective devices as possible, and ride defensively. While everyone should take advantage of helmets and other protective gear, this is especially important for children, to avoid concussions and traumatic brain injury. Broken bones, soft tissue damage, and cuts and contusions are common too—for anyone involved in a bicycle accident. Issues often arise due to negligence on the part of distracted motorists who may collide with bikes, rear-end them, or hit them head on when turning at intersections.

And while safety in traffic is a priority, maintenance for your bike (just as for a car or any other type of vehicle) should be too so that you are not left high and dry while away from home. Again, in most situations, bicycles are the most economical route to go for ‘vehicle’ maintenance, but make sure to do a thorough onceover periodically, checking:

  • Tire pressure – Don’t be caught with a flat! Your tires should indicate which pressure is necessary. Don’t forget to keep a patch kit on hand either for a quick fix on the road.
  • Brakes – This is one of the most important components of the bike. Check brakes regularly, and especially if they are squeaking or you suspect adjustments or tightening could be necessary.
  • Bicycle chain – Make sure it is properly lubricated and in good working order so that gears shift smoothly.
  • Hardware – Check all nuts and bolts and tighten them when necessary.

If you or a loved one have been affected by a bicycle accident injury caused by the negligence of others contact Heintz & Becker today. Our attorneys have helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

 

Bicyclists Riding Against Traffic More Likely to Be Severely Injured or Killed

Bicyclists abound around the US, but as the population in Florida continues to grow, so do outdoor enthusiasts. Traveling on two wheels is not confined just to enjoying the fresh air and beauty of the natural landscape, however. Commuting on bicycles is becoming more popular—and especially in cities. If you are physically active, or working on being so, bicycling to work often means less time traveling as you can circumvent traffic bottlenecks, accidents, and the inconveniences of rush-hour traffic. It is also much more economical, with absolutely no need for fuel other than your own leg power. Maintenance generally requires little expense, and the start-up cost in purchasing a bike can usually fit any budget.

Whether you are traveling alone or with your family or in a group of friends, however, safety should always come first—and unfortunately, the greatest threat is motorists. Distracted driving is responsible for thousands of deaths each year (and hundreds of thousands of injuries), whether this means bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, or other motorists. Defensive ‘traveling’ is necessary no matter your mode of transportation. If you are riding a bike, it is vital to be seen. Wear bright clothing, ride a brightly colored bike, and apply reflective devices wherever possible. When riding at night, make sure you have proper lighting, as well as devices to make you heard such as a bell or horn.

And although you may have heard conflicting views on traveling against traffic while bicycling (or walking), it is not only illegal in Florida but also considerably more unsafe. A recent study by the Florida Department of Transportation shows that bicyclists traveling on the roads against traffic were involved in more severe crashes, as well as more fatalities. Additional data shows that the following contributed to many bicycle crashes:

  • Poor lighting in city areas
  • Unusual intersection patterns
  • Reckless driving
  • Bicyclists hitting parked cars or opening doors

“Engineering countermeasures, including signal optimization, turn restrictions, and sign and pavement marking improvements, could improve the overall safety situation for bicyclists. Agency-wide education campaigns on the laws pertaining to bicyclists and extensive driver education campaigns that focus on driver compliance with bicyclist right-of-way laws and stricter enforcement could improve bicycle safety,” state FDOT researchers.

If you or a loved one have been affected by a bicycle accident injury caused by the negligence of others contact Heintz & Becker today. Our attorneys have helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Beware: Bicyclists Love Florida—But Greater Numbers Mean More Accidents

Bicycling is an activity you may have been enjoying as long as you can remember. Most of us start out as kids, doing the initial routine with training wheels, and then graduating to a more mature bike with the inevitable spills, and bumps and bruises along the way. You may prefer biking alone around Florida, taking respite from a busy life, enjoying fresh air on quiet roads and paths that are especially satisfying when the sun is shining (not too warmly!), the birds are singing, and other interesting wildlife make an appearance here and there as you travel on your way. Others still may enjoy bicycling as a family activity, getting all the children outside, and sometimes even including babies being pulled in small ‘trailers.’ Commuting is also becoming more and more popular on bikes and proving to be not only more economical but much faster in some city areas.

Florida is extremely popular for activities like swimming, walking, hiking a multitude of trails, motorcycling, and bicycling. Unfortunately, all this fun can also have its hazards—and bicycling is no exception. The Sunshine State is particularly dangerous for bicyclists, with recent data stating that Florida bicyclist fatalities are startingly higher than that of other states, with California and Texas emerging next in line. Higher numbers for Florida are thought to be due to a larger population of ageing drivers and visitors who may not be familiar with roads. Florida also has a large population overall, meaning statistically more accidents are to be expected—along with the addition of enticingly good weather year-round.

While many bike safety tips may seem like common sense, all too often they are overlooked, with visibility being one of the most important. Remember to wear brightly colored clothing, but it is also helpful to have reflective material anywhere possible – including on your helmet, shoes, and bike. Lights should be in working order too. Protective gear is vital, beginning with the helmet. And although kids may balk, knee and elbow pads certainly come in handy if there is an accident, preventing cuts, contusions, and possible road rash from those commonly vulnerable areas. Ride with traffic, not against it – and know and follow all traffic signs and signals. If you are riding with smaller children, make sure they have a full education on everything a bicyclist needs to know—especially if they are riding to and from school each day.

If you or a loved one have been affected by a bicycle accident injury caused by the negligence of others contact Heintz & Becker today. Our attorneys have helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

FDOT Study Examines Bicycle Crash Patterns

If you have never been injured in a bicycling accident, then it may seem like one of the most enjoyable and healthy forms of exercise one could enjoy. After all, what could go wrong as you innocently take in the fresh air and the natural landscape, working your heart and lungs, and burning calories like crazy? Unfortunately, plenty. And this is not usually the bicyclist’s fault. As usual—and as in the case of motorcyclist accidents and pedestrian injuries—motorists are your greatest threat. Florida is evidence of this danger too, listed as one of the top states for bicyclist fatalities.

The state has been working to solve the problem, with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) performing an analysis on bike crashes last year. As far back as 2014, Florida was leading in bicyclist fatalities, and the numbers continue to be concerning each year. In their report, researchers explore causes and patterns of such accidents, along with pinpointing ‘hot spots,’ and ways to prevent crashes. They also create crash modification factors for evaluating to ‘assess safety effects of common engineering treatments on bicycle safety.’

In their analysis, the researchers examined 26,036 crashes occurring between 2011 and 2014, finding that age and sex figured into fatalities, with elderly bicyclists and men more likely to be involved in fatal accidents. Fatalities also occurred more frequently for bicyclists riding at night, for bicyclists riding against the flow of traffic, and for those under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The analysis also includes many other detailed facts and statistics:

“The majority of bicycle crashes occurred on urban roadways; only 1.2% of all crashes that occurred on state roads occurred in rural areas,” states the report. “In terms of crash severity, 16.9% of all bicycle crashes that occurred on rural facilities resulted in fatalities while only 2.5% of those that occurred on urban facilities resulted in fatalities.”

“The average age of bicyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles was 43 years, while the average age of bicyclists involved in traffic crashes was 33.8 years. Among the different age groups, bicyclists between 45 and 54 years of age experienced the highest fatality rate of 19.76 fatalities per year per million population, and those in 65- to 74-year age group experienced the highest injury rate of 875.43 injuries per year per million population.”

The researchers point out the four main crash types:

  • The driver of a car turns right as a bicyclist is crossing.
  • Cars turn left facing bicyclists.
  • Bicyclists ride out into intersections.
  • Motorists run stop signs.

They also identified other reasons for accidents, to include lack of illumination at night in towns and cities, disregard for traffic laws, U-turns, bicyclists hitting car doors, complex intersections, and more.

As for measures to be taken in preventing further crashes, the team suggests more specific areas for bikes. Along with bike lanes, they suggest bicycle tracks and bicycle boulevards (‘defined as traffic-calmed side streets signed and improved for bicyclists to provide a safer alternative to riding on arterials’). Wider curb lanes, speed humps, lane reductions, and raised medians are suggested, along with more crosswalks and roadway lights.

Citing that bicycle crashes make up 5.6 traffic fatalities but overall only make up 1.9 percent of total accidents, the researchers point out that many bicycling accidents are severe.

“Drivers were found to be at-fault in 45.7% (1,321 of 2,888 bicycle crashes) of the crashes while bicyclists were at-fault in 30.2% (871 of 2,888 bicycle crashes) of the crashes. Both bicyclists and drivers were found to be at-fault in very few crashes (0.8%, 22 of 2,888 bicycle crashes),” states the report.

Both drivers and bicyclists tended to be at fault when not yielding right-of-way, ignoring traffic rules, and driving carelessly.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycling accident due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

 

Child Injuries: Danger Signs to Watch for After a Bicycle Accident

Bicycling is one of the healthiest forms of exercise, accessible and affordable for nearly everyone at any age. Not only is it low impact and beneficial for good heart and lung health (and so much more) but traveling on two wheels means an opportunity to take in fresh air, wave at the neighbors, and enjoy your surroundings in a carefree manner. And while such activity can be relaxing and meditative, it can also be fast-paced and competitive if that is what you seek. Or bicycling can even be a complete mode of transportation, carrying you back and forth on your daily commute economically—and sometimes even faster than traveling in regular traffic.

For kids though, riding bikes can be one of the greatest joys in childhood. It means the independence to ride around and explore the neighborhood, meet up with buddies, go out on bicycling ventures with the rest of the family, and even ride to school if it is close enough. Of course, all the health benefits of bicycling can be a double-edged sword when it comes to safety hazards, and especially with younger ones. If one of your children has had a bicycle accident, it is important to seek necessary medical attention as soon as possible.

Typical warning signs of serious injury are as follows:

  • Concussion – head injuries can be extremely serious—especially if a helmet is not worn for some reason—and any suspected concussion should be checked out immediately. You child may have been knocked unconscious or seem disoriented, or even suffer from amnesia. They may also be suffering from headaches, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Traumatic brain injury – taking the concussion one serious step further, the traumatic brain injury can have long-lasting effects but they may not be apparent at first. Signs include unconsciousness, headache, sleepiness, moodiness, lack of coordination, or even seizures.
  • Broken bones and sprains – pain and swelling are usually present, and often bruising too. X-rays can be used to diagnose a fracture and its severity.
  • Neck or spinal injury – pain in any of these areas, along with swelling or pressure may be present if there is such an injury. Your child may also experience tingling or numbness, lack of coordination, and have trouble standing up or walking without pain.

If you or a loved one have been affected by a bicycle accident injury caused by the negligence of others contact Heintz & Becker today. Our attorneys have helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Is It Really Okay for Bicyclists to Take Up a Whole Lane in Traffic?

Although you and your family may own a couple of cars and take your rightful place in traffic each day, you may be avid bicyclists too. Most of us have at least one of these smaller two-wheeled vehicles lodged in the garage, taking them out to enjoy a wide range of benefits: fresh air, a free mode of transportation, and the chance to burn tons of calories, get in some cardio, and build both muscle and bone strength. Best of all though, bike riding can be a huge stress reliever…in most cases.

Driving in traffic can be challenging, no matter who is traveling. You may be a motorist trying to get to work on time, feeling extremely frustrated by the enthusiast bicyclist riding ahead of you in traffic. Although they are obviously pedaling at an impressive speed for a bicycle, it may still be just a bit slow enough to keep you from sliding into your parking place on time. Conversely, if you are a bicyclist taking a familiar route through traffic to get to your destination, you may have good reason to worry about that car behind you that seems to be following way too close for safety or with a driver who may even be exhibiting signs of road rage with verbal abuse and honking in an attempt to get you to leave the road.

As a bicyclist, you have every right to travel on the road as long as you are following traffic rules and proceeding in a safe manner. This may not be the most relaxing way to travel—and especially if you lack experience—but it is completely legal. As a motorist, you may not be happy about having to travel a bit more slowly behind a smaller vehicle, but as the saying goes, “Share the road.” It is your responsibility to do so safely and respectfully. Keep in mind too that there are numerous ways motorists can improve travel on the roads with bicyclists (along with motorcyclists and pedestrians), along with helping them avoid collisions:

  • Understand that although there may be fewer of them, bicyclists have the same rights to the road as you do.
  • Avoid distractions while driving.
  • Keep a safe distance.
  • Use proper signals to avoid accidents at intersections.
  • Take extra time and caution when making left- or right-hand turns.
  • Be especially careful around crosswalks.
  • Make sure the road is clear when parking and opening your door near traffic.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycling accident due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Bicyclists Have the Same Rights as Everyone Else on the Road

Riding bikes is an activity most of us take to as kids. Except for the checking and filling of tires, bikes require rare, low-level maintenance.

This means transportation is virtually free, with your fuel supply reliant completely on your own physical effort.

The health benefits associated with riding your bike are also far too good to ignore, for all ages. This includes an excellent way to get cardio exercise, burn calories and fat, strengthen bones, reduce stress, and so much more.

Motorists Are Often Irritated by Bicycle Enthusiasts

The sad truth though is that not everyone may be so happy to see you sharing the roadways with them. Riding on paths and in bike lanes can be challenging enough due to foot traffic, other bicyclists, and more.

When you are actually sharing lanes with cars though, many may become exasperated due to a perceived lack of speed. B

icycles are considered to be vehicles, and they have just as much right to be riding on the roadways. Whether you are a bicyclist or a motorist, you must share the road, and everyone must follow the same traffic rules.

Fatalities Rise at Alarming Rates in the US and Florida

As traffic fatalities continue to rise though—and this includes bicyclists (as well as pedestrians) too, extra precautions obviously need to be taken to protect those who are even more vulnerable in traffic due to the lack of protection when struck by a car weighing around 4,000 pounds.

Bicyclists must be properly educated on all necessary hand signals, as well as understand all traffic rules—and this is particularly important for younger cyclists.

It is also critical for those riding their bikes in traffic to be well-practiced at doing so. If you haven’t ridden a bike much—build up your skills elsewhere before heading into traffic, a practice which even the most experienced cyclists can find stressful and intimidating.

Always Ride on the Defense

Safety measures such as added visibility should be taken, as well as making sure you make eye contact with other drivers who may be turning at an intersection. Ride defensively, especially in areas where motorists are turning into crosswalk areas.

They often forget to look for bicyclists and may not have properly reduced speed either. Bicyclists in traffic, in line with following all the same rules, must also go with the flow of traffic.

In protecting yourself and taking a defensive stance, you should always be watching the motorists and oncoming traffic: make sure you are not too close to the side of the road where you can easily be forced out—and avoid getting into the blind spots of those driving cars.

Contact Us for Help!

If you or your child has been injured in a bicycling accident due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker.

We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Bicyclists: Riding Against the Flow of Traffic is Dangerous—and Illegal

Riding a bicycle is one of the best ways possible to enjoy exercise. And although the weather can change on a dime, bicycling allows you to get outside in that famous Florida sunshine and fresh air, traveling at your own pace and experiencing physical benefits as cardiovascular health is improved, muscles and bones are strengthened, and stress levels are reduced significantly.

All of the added health benefits from bicycling can end abruptly, however, if proper safety measures aren’t taken. Along with understanding proper road signals, wearing highly visible clothing, and making sure that your bike is in working order, how you ride your bike makes all the difference.

And although many cyclists may have heard that riding against the flow of traffic is better as it allows you to see what you are dealing with on the road, such a practice is not only extremely unsafe, but it is against the law too.

On a busy road, when riding against the flow, the problem of visibility is decreased even further. Motorists (already challenged to see anything other than cars and trucks) are usually not prepared for bicyclists to be riding the opposite way and their reaction time is much more restricted if they need to swerve out of the way or stop quickly. This is also like riding down a one-way street as all the road signs are directed the other way. And while motorists are the main concern for being hit while you are riding a bike, if you are going the wrong direction you may find others to be confused by your behavior too—like pedestrians. Such riding habits are dangerous for everyone on the road and while riding the wrong direction could get you a ticket, it could also mean that you were the negligent party in the case of an accident.

Bicyclists in traffic are at an enormous disadvantage due to lack of protection in comparison to motorists. Helmets are able to prevent some major head injuries, but bicycle accidents may result in serious contusions, broken bones, neck and spinal injuries, paralysis, and even death.

While everyone should focus on being safe while in traffic, Florida roads merit extra concern as they are known to be extra dangerous for motorists—as well as for bicyclists and pedestrians, with seniors traveling on foot at even greatest risk.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycling accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker.

We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Floridians: Five Ways to Avoid Bicycle Accidents

People travel from all over the world—all times of the year—to bask in the Florida sunshine and enjoy a wide range of fun outdoor activities. Bicycling offers healthy recreation for the whole family, often including even the youngest family members—from tots riding in attached mini-trailers or mounted seats to school-age children who may have shed the training wheels a while ago. And whether you are on vacation or enjoying an area you have lived in for years (gasp, you might even be one of those rare natives!), it is obvious that many Florida roads can be busy, and even slightly treacherous for crossing.

The scene may look innocuous enough as you head out on a quite Sunday morning, but even with its quiet beauty and distinction for idyllic vacationing and living, Florida has reached an all-time high for bicycle crashes and deaths. Experts theorize that more cars on the roads today are the reason for so many accidents and deaths, to include that of pedestrians also. The bottom line is that you and your loved ones are vulnerable in traffic, riding lightweight bikes amidst countless vehicles that on average weigh over 4,000 pounds.

Here are five ways to avoid injury in a cycling accident:

  1. Wear a helmet! While this is especially important for young children who are prone to even worse repercussions from a concussion or traumatic brain injury, cyclists of all ages should protect themselves from the potential of catastrophic head injuries. Before purchasing a helmet, make sure it is US Department of Transportation approved.
  2. Maintain your equipment properly. Having a blowout with a tire bicycle or chain can be dangerous if you are traveling in traffic. Also, make sure you have working tools including a light, bell, or horn.
  3. No matter what time of day you are riding your bike, always wear brightly colored clothing. And although you may be concerned about what type of fashion statement you are making, safety comes first, and neon vests can be extremely effective if you are sharing the road with cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Motorists are used to looking out for cars and trucks—but may have trouble focusing on motorcycles, bikes, and pedestrians. Do everything possible to be visible.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings all the time. This is especially important if you are traveling near or in traffic and approaching areas like intersections. Making eye contact before turning or crossing is helpful. Also, be alert to anything or anyone in your path, whether you are on the road or traveling in a designated side area.
  5. Know the traffic rules and follow them—especially when crossing traffic, making turns, and more. Essentially, you should use the same traffic rules that you do when driving—along with employing the proper hand signals.

If you or your child has been injured in a bicycling accident due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.