Washington, D.C. Cycling Accidents and the Double-Edged Sword of Bike Lanes

While our country has made enormous strides recently in the last decade when it comes to making roads more bicycle friendly, we are still well behind other countries in terms of bicyclists and motorists being completely adapted to sharing the same space. While they are not cure-alls, bike lanes—when used properly—can offer cyclists a safe space to get from point A to point B.

Bicycle Lanes: Unlocking the Potential to Prevent Washington, D.C. Car/Bike Collisions

Bike lanes are a relatively new occurrence in many towns throughout the United States, and for the most part, they receive rave reviews wherever they are installed. Many recreational bikers stuck primarily to off-road bike paths and quiet streets in order to avoid the often intimidating task of riding in and alongside fast-moving traffic. This made it difficult for these bikers to make the transition from using their bike for recreation to using it as a standard mode of transportation.

Bike lanes have quite literally opened the road for an entire new generation of bikers. These lanes have offered new cyclists the opportunity to join the veteran “road warrior” cyclists on treks to work, fitness, or just around town. That extra stripe of road paint offers many an added level of security—a small barrier to separate cars and bicycles. Dedicated bike lanes also make pedestrians feel safer, as cyclists venture off the sidewalk and onto the street. In fact, there are few valid arguments against what bike lanes alone can accomplish—the negative arguments are directed instead at how cyclists and motorists alike respond to the presence of bike lanes.

The Recipe for a Safe Bike Lane

Bike lanes are not a “just add water” recipe for safety—they must be used properly to offer the protection that they offer. The simple presence of the lane cannot protect cyclists if they are not applying the same rules that they would while riding in traffic. Riding the wrong way or being overly reliant on the lane—including trying to turn left at an intersection out of the standard right-hand bike lane—completely defeats the purpose of the lane, and would be unlikely to happen if the lane did not exist to begin with.

Motorists are also somewhat “spoiled” by bicycle lanes. On a road with a bike lane, these drivers may believe that bikes must stay in the bike lane, and are not prepared for the chance that a bike will leave the lane to turn left. It may also condition drivers to believe that bikes are only allowed on streets with bike lanes, causing them to react with impatience when a bike must ride in traffic.

Preventing D.C.-Area Bike Accidents with Bike Lanes and Smart Road Sharing

In the end, there is no one fix to keep bikers safe. Bike lanes offer a platform to practice safe biking, but they do not make biking automatically safer. It is up to cyclists and motorists alike to be mindful of each other, and use the proper precaution.

If you have been involved in a car/bike wreck in the Bethesda or Washington, D.C. area, you are not alone in your fight to get rightful compensation. The Bethesda bicycle accident injury lawyers at Lewis & Tompkins are available today to hear your side of the story—call now at 202.296.0666 to speak with an experienced lawyer.

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