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Philadelphia and the Grand Tradition of Bicycling

Philadelphia has long been considered one of the top bicycling cities in America. But today, the city’s grand tradition of bicycling is being eclipsed by the disregard many Philadelphia drivers show bicyclists—and the danger they cause them. As a Philadelphia bicycle accident attorney, I spend a great deal of time reviewing and investigating claims of bicycle accidents where the rider was rightfully traveling in the designated lane—even though it is illegal for vehicles to block or obstruct the bike lane, and drivers face potential liability if doing so is the proximate cause of a crash and resulting injuries or death.

Pennsylvania laws are amenable to bike riders. In this state, bicyclists have a legal right to use the right traffic lane as well as a designated bike lane. Cars are required to give bikes at least four feet of clearance when passing. Vehicle drivers are allowed to cross over a double yellow line to provide an extra margin of safety for bicyclists if there is no traffic coming from the opposite direction. So, why has it become so risky to ride a bike in the City of Brotherly Love?

Some Bicycle Accidents and Near-Misses Occur When Taxi Cab Drivers Pull Over Into The Path of Cyclists to Pick Up Potential Fare-Paying Passengers

Others occur because drivers who are busy texting or talking on cell phones do not pay attention to bicyclists. In some Philadelphia locations such as the parkways and drives, many drivers improperly negotiate curves, often crossing bike lane boundaries. This, sadly, is what happened to one of our clients, who ended up sustaining catastrophic, life-altering injuries.

Unfortunately, over the last three decades as a practicing bicycle accident attorney, I have investigated and handled many similar cases resulting in life-changing catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths. To make matters worse, such accidents often result from the negligence of uninsured or underinsured drivers.

As an avid cyclist who generally rides 30 to 40 miles per day three days a week, I know there are many drivers who resent the cyclist’s right to be on the road. I have had drivers in trucks and cars deliberately try to cut me off, or run stop signs and red lights. Oftentimes, their hostile and dangerous actions are accompanied by impolite hand gestures.

Luckily, however, there are things bicyclists can do to minimize their chances of getting hit by motor vehicles. They can wear high visibility clothing, making themselves as bright as possible. They can ride their bicycles defensively, with the understanding that many drivers are multi-tasking and not paying attention. They can steer clear of car doors opening in their paths, to avoid crashing into parked cars.

There are things cities can do, as well. Intersections are particularly hazardous areas for bicyclists, with almost 70% of bicycle accidents occurring at them. To alleviate this problem, many cities use bike boxes—specially designated areas at signaled intersections— that allow bicycles to pull in front of waiting traffic. A bike box, typically a 14-foot wide rectangular-shaped area behind the pedestrian crosswalk and in front of the stop line for motorists, can improve visibility and thereby minimize the chance of an accident. According to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, “… the City needs to ‘just do it’ and follow the lead of a growing number of cities from coast to coast that is putting in bike boxes.”

Our Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Lawyers Understand Your Concerns and Can Professionally Evaluate Your Case

The bikeshare injury attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm have been recognized by their peers as having the highest possible rating in both legal abilities and ethical standards. They are consistently recognized as Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and are members of the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Attorneys. Call us today for a free consultation at (215) 709-6940.

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