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What Are The Most Common Causes of New York Bicycle Accidents?

Let a skilled New York bicycle accident lawyer fight for you every step of the way if you were injured

Cycling in New York can be a rewarding yet challenging experience, with potential risks that can lead to bicycle accidents. The city’s dense traffic and busy streets pose significant hazards. The more rural parts of New York have fewer bike lanes and trails, which potentially put bicyclists in the line of high-speed traffic.

In one recent year, New York City saw a total of 5,621 bicycle accidents with motor vehicles, which resulted in 4,676 bicyclist injuries and 15 fatalities.

Despite these risks, New York City has made strides to improve cyclist safety, such as expanding its network of protected bike lanes and implementing Vision Zero initiatives aimed at reducing traffic fatalities. However, infrastructure improvements are still a work in progress.

How are bicycle accidents caused?

The most common cause of bicycle accidents in New York is driver negligence. This includes:

  • Texting and Driving or Engaging in Other Distractions: Drivers who use their phones or engage in other distractions while driving are less likely to notice bicyclists on the road, leading to accidents.
  • Speeding and Reckless Driving: Excessive speed reduces a driver's reaction time and increases the severity of collisions with bicyclists. Reckless driving behaviors such as weaving in and out of traffic further endanger cyclists.
  • Impaired or Drowsy Driving: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or while excessively tired significantly impairs a driver's ability to make safe decisions and react quickly to bicyclists sharing the road.
  • Failure to Yield the Right of Way to Bicyclists: Drivers who do not yield to bicyclists at intersections or when merging can cause serious collisions. Bicyclists have the same rights to the road as vehicles, and failure to recognize this can lead to accidents.
  • Running Red Lights and Stop Signs: Drivers who run red lights or stop signs can cause devastating accidents with bicyclists who are legally crossing intersections.
  • Opening Car Doors Without Checking for Oncoming Bicyclists (Dooring): When parked drivers open their doors without looking for passing bicyclists, it can result in sudden and often severe collisions, causing the cyclist to crash into the door or swerve into traffic.

Inadequate infrastructure and poor road conditions can also contribute to bicycle accidents in New York. This includes:

  • Lack of Bike Lanes: Areas without designated bike lanes force cyclists to share the road with motor vehicles, increasing the risk of accidents.
  • Poorly Designed Bike Lanes: Bike lanes that are not well-marked or that suddenly end can create dangerous situations for cyclists, who may need to merge unexpectedly with vehicular traffic.
  • Potholes and Cracks in the Road: These road defects can cause bicyclists to lose control, leading to crashes. Potholes and cracks are particularly hazardous for cyclists due to their smaller wheels and lack of suspension.
  • Debris in the Road: Objects such as broken glass, gravel, or other debris can cause cyclists to swerve or lose control, resulting in accidents.
  • Construction Zones: Areas under construction often have uneven surfaces, barriers, and equipment that can pose significant hazards for bicyclists.
  • Poor Lighting: Insufficient street lighting can make it difficult for drivers to see bicyclists at night or in low-light conditions, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
  • Obstructed Views: Trees, parked cars, buildings, and other obstructions can block drivers' view of bicyclists, leading to collisions, especially at intersections and driveways.

What is the most common injury in a bicycle accident?

If you’re involved in a New York bicycle accident, you could sustain an injury that ranges from minor to serious, debilitating, and potentially life-threatening. The most common bicycle accident injuries include:

Head injuries

Head injuries can range from minor concussions to more serious traumatic brain injuries such as diffuse axonal injuries.

Road rash

Road rash is a serious abrasion that occurs when a bicyclist's skin scrapes against the pavement or ground during a fall.


Fractures, or broken bones, are common in bicycle accidents, particularly involving the arms, legs, collarbone, and ribs.

Facial injuries

Facial injuries can occur when a cyclist's face strikes the ground or another object during a fall. These can include facial lacerations, dental injuries, and fractures to the nose or jaw.

Shoulder injuries

Shoulder injuries often result from the impact of a collision or a bicyclist's attempt to break their fall. This often includes dislocations and shoulder separations.

Wrist and hand injuries

Wrist and hand injuries include sprains, fractures, and nerve damage. They can occur when a cyclist instinctively tries to break their fall with their hands.

When should I go to the doctor after a bike crash?

It’s always best practice to see a doctor as soon as possible after a New York bicycle accident, even if you feel fine initially. You’ll likely need emergency medical care if you immediately:

  • Lost consciousness.
  • Have severe headaches, dizziness, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Have profuse bleeding that won’t stop after applying pressure.
  • Suffer from protruding bones or obvious deformities.
  • Aren’t able to move limbs or your entire body.

However, it’s important to remember that bicycle accident injuries don’t always show immediate symptoms. You may not notice any pain, swelling, loss of mobility, or other symptoms until days after the bicycle accident.

When you see a doctor right away, they can identify hidden injuries, provide an accurate diagnosis, and begin treatment before your condition worsens.

How do I build a strong bicycle accident case?

If you’re injured in a bicycle accident in New York, it’s important to take your case seriously from the start. You can take the following actions at the crash scene to begin building your case:

  • Call the police and wait for an officer to arrive at the scene. A law enforcement officer can create a detailed report showing how the bicycle accident occurred and who likely caused it.
  • Exchange contact and insurance information with the other parties involved in the crash. If there are any witnesses nearby, get their contact information as well.
  • Collect evidence from the crash scene if possible. Take photos and videos of your injuries, damage to your bike and the vehicle involved, road conditions, and traffic signals.
  • Don’t admit fault or provide any recorded statements to the driver’s insurance company without first consulting with a New York bicycle accident lawyer. Your words could be used against you later.
  • Keep records of your damages. That includes medical records, repair costs, lost wages, and a journal of your pain and suffering.

Who will pay for my damages after a New York bicycle accident?

In New York, who pays for damages after a bicycle accident depends on who was at fault and the extent of your injuries. First of all, New York is a no-fault state. So, if you have car insurance and your damages don’t exceed your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy limit, your own insurance company should compensate you regardless of who was at fault.

In New York, the PIP policy limit is $50,000. If your damages exceed that, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This should cover your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. However, you must prove liability to be eligible for these damages.

How is liability proven in a bicycle accident?

In a bicycle accident case, liability is typically proven by establishing four key criteria:

  • Duty of care: All road users have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid causing harm or injury to others. That includes obeying all traffic laws and using the road in a safe and prudent way.
  • Breach of duty: To have a viable claim, you must prove that the at-fault driver breached their duty of care.
  • Causation: Causation involves proving that the driver’s breach of duty directly caused your bicycle accident and the resulting injuries.
  • Damages: Finally, the attorney must demonstrate that you suffered actual damages as a result of your bicycle accident.

To gather evidence for each of these criteria, an attorney may interview witnesses, get a copy of the police report, obtain camera footage, and hire an accident reconstructionist to determine the cause.

When should I get a lawyer after a bicycle accident?

It’s advisable to consult with a New York bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible, especially if you sustained injuries. Drivers often try to shift blame onto cyclists, and insurance companies will do everything in their power to minimize or deny compensation, putting their profits above your well-being.

The legal team at Giampa Law can build a strong case on your behalf and fight for a fair settlement that fully compensates you. We have spent decades fighting for the rights of injury victims in the Bronx, Westchester County, and throughout New York.

If you or a loved one was hurt in a bicycle accident, don’t face the aftermath alone. Contact Giampa Law today for a free case evaluation.

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