Young Bicyclists: Does Your Child Understand Road Signs?

Chances are, if your child is learning how to ride a bicycle, you are their source for Biking 101. And this sporty outdoor education may begin at an early age; in fact, you may even be carting them around with you in a protective trailer as a baby or in a seat behind you when they are toddlers. Riding a bike is not only a great group activity, but it begins training your child who may commute back and forth to school independently one day.

In the beginning, bicycling together as a family is a great way to promote togetherness—what better way could there be to enjoy a Saturday morning? Riding a bicycle also brings on a host of health benefits to include building strong muscles and bones, promoting good cardio exercise, burning calories, and getting an overall good work out. Biking within the family is a great exercise, but it’s also a valuable way for kids to build friendships as they ride their bikes together, and they may often employ a buddy system for traveling back and forth to school later.

While your child may start riding a bike at a very young age, they will require supervision until they are old enough to understand the basics of traffic, including all the same rules you must follow, and road signs too. This education begins for small children as they learn to recognize the stop sign. They must also understand the yield sign, railroad crossing signs, road construction, crossing zones, construction zones, and more. Although you can point these signs out to your child while biking (along with quizzing them along the way too), you may want to go online or procure a driver’s education booklet for added learning.

Along with understanding the mechanics and safety rules for traffic, kids should also be completely equipped with protective gear for riding. The priority should be a helmet, so your child can avoid concussion or traumatic brain injury, and both elbow and kneepads are highly recommended (if you can get your child to agree to wear them). The bike should be well-maintained, with the tires checked regularly, a working bell or a horn, and lights if you are concerned that your child may be riding at dusk or later.

Always remember that visibility is a huge issue for bicyclists, and especially the younger riders. Reflectors are extremely helpful too and can be attached not only to the bike but also to the child’s shoes, helmet, and even clothing. Speak to your child frankly about what to do if they are involved in an accident, and always make sure they have your phone number memorized in case of an emergency.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle 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.

Parents: Brush Up on Traffic Laws to Teach Your Children Bicycle Safety

Bicycling: what could be better than enjoying the fresh air together as a family? Heading out to get some exercise on two wheels is usually a highly recommended activity whether as a solitary venture, or whether you branch out into a group or travel with your partner and children. Although you probably often see families on the road—and even parents biking with babies being towed behind in little buggies—do not be fooled. There has usually been great thought and attention to safety ahead of time.

Florida has also been noted (unfortunately) for increased fatalities, to the point of being referred to as a ‘killing field’ for bicyclists in recent years. On the flip side, in the right environment, bicycling can be phenomenal for your health, helping to build muscle and bone, promoting better heart and lung health, and burning enormous amounts of calories. For the younger riders, though there is usually a period of time before the training wheels come off, and they must be duly educated regarding traffic rules; in fact, one of the interesting parts of learning to bicycle is that you must know as much about riding in traffic as an experienced adult driver. You may find your child asking questions about some signs and rules that you don’t think about much—and it may even be helpful to get a book or video about understanding what it means to become the operator of a ‘vehicle,’ which you technically are when you ride a bike.

If your child is going to be biking to school unsupervised, there are specific details that should be covered such as dealing with directions, and the possibility of taking that big ‘step’ in crossing the highway. In more recreational situations, while your children should understand how to follow all traffic rules, they must also understand and be prepared with basic safety measures.

Your child’s bicycle should be properly maintained so they have a good foundation to start. Tires should be full and holding air, the chain properly greased, and the brakes working like a charm. The bike should be equipped with a bell or horn, and if there is a possibility that your child will be riding at dusk, they should have functional lights. And while it is not recommended for a younger child to be riding in the dark, if your older child might be—or if that is the case for you—make sure you have as much lighting as possible, and reflectors. These can be applied to the bicycle, as well as your helmet and even clothing and shoes (another great tip for pedestrians to keep in mind too, minus the helmet). While explaining traffic laws to your child, you may want to brush up on the rules, signs, and signals here.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle 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.

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.

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.

 

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.

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.