Bicycling Safety in Wisconsin

Bicycling Safety in Wisconsin

With spring’s arrival, Wisconsinites are anxious to get out doors and enjoy their favorite activities that the long winter months prevent them for participating in. Bicycling is an increasingly popular sport for adults as a means of exercise and transportation. Unfortunately, bicyclist’ share the road with motor vehicles, and bike accidents occur. These usually result from a driver’s inattention or even purposeful failure to yield the right of way to the cyclist.

In 2015, 818 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts.

Other statistics on bicycle crashes with motor vehicles:

Alcohol was a factor in 37% of fatal bike crashes, with drivers doing the drinking in 12 percent of the cases and bike riders drinking in 22 percent, the latter a decline from 38 percent 10 years ago.

  • Though it’s estimated that 45,000 cyclists were injured in crashes in 2015, the report said police probably record a fraction of those crashes because bikes don’t get towed from crashes and cars rarely need towing after colliding with a cyclist.
  • The majority of fatal bike crashes — 72 percent — took place on the roadway rather than at intersections.
  • Distracted driving was to blame for 76 cyclist deaths out of 818 in 2015.
  • More than half of cyclists killed were not wearing a helmet.
  • Bike fatalities were evenly split at 47 percent between those riding in daylight and those riding after dark, though only 20 percent of bike rides take place after dark.

The most common accidents that occur between and car and bicycle:

 1) The Right Cross

This occurs when a car pulls out of a side street, alley, driveway, or parking lot and exit to a cyclist’s right. The cyclist has already passed the front of the motor vehicle, which then strikes the cyclist. Or the car pulls out far enough at the last second to block the biker’s right of way, making it impossible for the cyclist to avoid a collision with the side of the car.

 Avoid it: Cyclists should be more visible to drivers. Use a headlight or flashing light on the front of your bike, even during the daytime. Cyclists should also anticipate cars pulling out from the right. Ride further out to the left, creating more angles of visibility and allowing you more maneuverability to stop or swerve.

 2) The Right Hook

The “Right Hook” commonly occurs in two ways. One situation arises when a bike rider is in front of the cross street and is struck because the driver of the car fails to see the bicyclist when making a right turn. The second more common situation occurs when a motor vehicle operator overtakes a bicyclist then cuts them off when making a right turn. The car passes the biker, forgets about them or assumes they have passed them with sufficient space, and then quickly makes a right turn causing the cyclist to slam into the side of the car.

Avoid it: A cyclist should ride farther left in the lane, causing cars to pass the cyclist more deliberately. Even if cut off, you will already be positioned further to the left as a head start on swerving to avoid a collision.   

 3) The Door Surprise

This collision occurs when the driver of a parked car opens the car door directly in front of a bicyclist. The opened door blocks the biker without enough notice to allow the biker to stop or swerve out of the way.

 Avoid it: Bikers should ride farther to the left, even if this puts you more into the lane of car traffic. This makes bikers more visible to the cars driving behind them as well. If possible, keep a lookout for drivers in parked cars to your right. If someone is seated in a driver’s seat, safely move to the left and then move back to the right after passing that car.

 4) The Rear End

Bicyclists are most concerned about rear end collisions and resulting injuries. It is not an uncommon situation. In fact, the rear end collision is the most common way that drunk drivers hit and kill cyclists.

 Avoid it: Most importantly, bicyclists should take steps to be visible and select the safest time and roads to ride on. Headlights, taillights, and reflective gear may not be cool, but they can save your life. “Bike Lights for Safety: See and Be Seen” It may be counterintuitive, but do not ride close to the curb. Car drivers will pay more attention to you if you ride about six inches inside the white shoulder line, and not outside of it or on it.


5) The Left Cross

This occurs when a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction makes a left turn in front of a bicyclist, and either strikes the left side of the biker, or cuts off the biker forcing the biker to hit the right side of the vehicle.

 Avoid it: Bicyclists should not ride on sidewalks, which are for pedestrians, not bikes. Drivers are not paying attention to or looking for bikes on sidewalks. Keep scanning several seconds ahead of you for potential dangers, and be aware of your visibility if it is concealed by traffic, bushes, or parked cars.

 If you are in a bicycle accident, seek immediate medical care. It is possible to believe you are not injured, only to wake up the next day with aches and pains caused by the accident. If you wait too long to seek treatment, the insurer will try to claim that your injury was due to something else other than the accident.

Do not give a statement to the insurance adjuster. Shortly after the accident, the driver’s insurance adjuster will call and ask you to make a recorded statement about the accident. The law does not require you to do this and it is highly recommended that you do not. No matter how kind and compassionate the adjuster seems to be, adjusters work for the insurance company. They do not work for injured people and your words can easily be twisted around to blame you at least partially for the accident.

Call Scherr & Scherr, LLC to review the facts of the case, including the police and investigative reports. The experts and Scherr & Scherr will file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf.