Following recent accidents involving bicyclists, safety advocate groups and bicycling enthusiasts alike are calling for changes to state regulations regarding the rights and safety of bikers on Baltimore-area roadways. The recent accidents, one involving a hit-and-run driver who is suspected to have been under the influence at the time of the crash, have shed new light on the lack of protection for bicyclists.
What can be done to improve safety for bicyclists?
While it is unfortunate that such tragedies had to happen before safety changes were considered, the discussions regarding new safety laws may lead to life-saving changes for future bicyclists. Cycling advocate groups have called for changes to Maryland laws, prompting officials to consider new strategies to protect bicyclists, including:
- Expanded buffer zones: Creating more room between drivers and cyclists will provide a greater deal of protection for all road users. While buffer zones already exist on many major roadways in the Baltimore area, cyclist advocate groups believe the current standards are not sufficient to protect pedestrians and cyclists.
- Increased warning signs: While roadside signs warning drivers about the presence of cyclists are already in place, safety advocates believe that expanding the signs and warning efforts will only increase cyclist safety. Adding signage is a relatively simple, but effective, strategy for increasing cyclist safety in the Baltimore area and throughout Maryland.
Are changes to bicycle safety regulations likely?
While many recognize the need for increased protection for cyclists, changes are likely to be slow in coming. In a recent statement, the Maryland State Highway Administration said that it considers cyclist safety when planning all new road projects, and makes every effort to design and construct roadways that provide safety for all users.
The planning and creation of new roadways takes time, however, and it is unlikely that the state will have the resources and funds needed to make swift adjustments should the decision be made to do so.
What can drivers do to protect cyclists?
There are many things that drivers can do to help protect cyclists from unnecessary danger and tragic accidents, including:
- Slowing down
- Paying careful attention to cyclists
- Giving cyclists a buffer zone whenever possible
- Practice added caution whenever cyclists are present
Simply by making an extra effort to share the road with all users, including those on bikes or on foot, drivers can help to limit the danger everyone faces.
What rights do cyclists have after an accident?
Cyclists who are injured in accidents caused by a negligent driver have several legal rights, including the right to pursue compensation for the losses stemming from the crash. Compensable losses include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and the loss of a loved one.