If you want to ride your bike in Kentucky for exercise, competitions, bike touring vacations, or just for fun, you will find a range of beautiful and diverse places to do so. For bike enthusiasts, the commonwealth offers thousands of miles of paved trails and challenging country roads.
In recent years, people have been minimizing vehicle usage in favor of traveling by bicycle. Everywhere you go in Louisville, you’ll see people using their bikes to commute, attend school, and run errands. While it’s a sustainable way to get from Point A to B, statistics show that it’s also a risky one: reckless drivers, unclear lane markings, and rough patches of pavement all cause accidents every year, some of them fatal.
At The Schafer Law Office, we have represented many injured cyclists in personal injury claims, and have seen first-hand how common yet devastating these accidents can be. This article presents recent KY bicycle accident statistics, along with bicycle laws in KY, tips for staying safe as a cyclist, and how a Louisville bicycle accident lawyer can help if you’re injured.
Bicycle Accident Statistics- a National Overview
According to the National Safety Council, bicycle accident deaths across the country increased by 16% between 2019 and 2020 and a surprising 44% between 2011 (873 deaths) and 2020 (1,260). However, the number of nonfatal injuries fell by 39% during the same period, from 536,412 in 2011 to 325,173 in 2020. (Although there was a 5% jump in injury accidents between 2019 and 2020).
There is an increase in bicycle-related deaths beginning in May and continuing through October, which coincides with the warmer-weather season. In 2020, the highest number of deaths took place in August at 157 while the fewest (53) occurred in February.
Additional 2020 bicycle statistics:
- Data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that 806 bicyclists died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2020, while 454 died in other non-traffic incidents.
- More than eight times as many bicycle deaths occurred among males as among females. (Men accounted for 89% of all crash victims).
- Cyclist deaths accounted for 2% of all traffic fatalities involving motor vehicles.
- There were 425,910 emergency room visits for injuries associated with bicycles and bicycle accessories.
Bicycle Accident Statistics in Kentucky
In Kentucky, bicycle accidents occur almost every day. Many of these accidents cause injuries that range in severity from minor to catastrophic while others end in death.
According to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, there were 354 bicycle accidents across the state in 2020, accounting for 0.33% of all collisions. 237 people were injured and four were killed. Out of all these accidents:
- 93 involved driver inattention
- 45 were caused by failure to yield the right of way
- 10 resulted from disregarding traffic controls (e.g. running red lights)
- 8 involved distraction
- 4 involved improper turns
In Louisville in particular, one bicyclist was killed on the road and five others were seriously injured between January and June 2022.
Common Causes of Kentucky Bicycle Accidents
Many factors can contribute to a bicycle accident. They include but may not be limited to:
- Disregard of bicycle and traffic laws
- Dooring- a motorist opens their door into the path of an oncoming vehicle
- Inexperienced drivers and bike riders
- Biking or driving while distracted, drowsy, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Aggressive driving
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Motorists who follow or pass cyclists too closely
- Improper lane changes
- Dangerous road conditions including road debris, oil spills, and potholes
- Poor weather conditions
Bicycle Safety Tips
The top bicycle safety tip is to wear a helmet. Studies suggest that helmet use can significantly reduce the risk of head and brain injury. One analysis of over 40 studies on helmet effectiveness found that when a cyclist wears head protection, there is a:
- 51% reduction in the likelihood of a head injury
- 69% reduction for a serious head injury
- 65% reduction for a fatal head injury
- 33% reduction in facial injuries
In Kentucky, state law only requires those under 12 to wear helmets, although cities can pass their own bicycle safety ordinances. In Louisville, those under 18 must wear a helmet while riding in any metro park. As the above statistics suggest, helmet use is recommended for all riders regardless of age.
Other bicycle safety tips and bicycle laws in KY include:
- Check your bike before you head out. Ensure that your tires are properly inflated, your reflectors and lights work, and your chains and gears have no defects, fractures, or issues.
- Use a light. State law requires you to use a front light when riding at night or whenever it is darker than usual. Whenever you ride on a highway or shoulder, you must also use a red rear reflector or light.
- Wear reflective materials. You are more likely to be involved in an accident if a driver cannot see you.
- Keep your hands on the bike, especially when you’re sharing the road with other vehicles.
- Know and use bike signals. Many accidents occur at or near intersections and can be prevented if drivers know what a cyclist is going to do.
- Limit distractions. Keep electronics stored while riding so you can watch the road and remain aware of your surroundings.
- Always ride with the flow of traffic.
- Stay off of sidewalks: you’re more likely to lose control or crash into a pedestrian on a crowded sidewalk. Note: According to Louisville bike laws, anyone over 11 years old shall not operate a bicycle on any sidewalk within the boundary limits of Louisville Metro and nobody of any age shall ride on the sidewalk downtown.
- Use dedicated bike lanes.
What To Do If You’re in a Bicycle Accident
If you are involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, take the following steps:
- Call 911 to report the accident to the police. If you have visible injuries and/or are in pain, ask the dispatcher to send an ambulance as well.
- Take pictures of the accident scene, especially the damage to your bike and the vehicle involved. Take pictures of street signs and traffic signs too. If your smartphone is damaged or you can’t move, ask a witness to take the pictures and text or email them to you.
- Get contact and license information from the driver, as well as contact details for any witnesses. Confine all conversation to the information exchange: do not discuss or admit fault.
- Seek medical treatment. You’ll want prompt attention for your injuries, and the treatment record is a key piece of evidence in a bicycle accident claim.
- Don’t throw away your damaged bike, clothing, or personal property: all of them can be used as evidence.
- Contact a Louisville personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can facilitate your access to ongoing medical treatment and negotiate or litigate for the compensation you need to cover your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and more.
Contact us for a free consultation if you are injured in a bicycle accident due to a careless driver. It is our mission to ensure the safety and recovery of victims throughout the recovery process and to get them back on their bikes as soon as possible.
Injured in a KY Bicycle Accident? Get a Free Consultation From a Louisville Bike Accident Lawyer
When you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, coping with the physical pain, emotional distress, and high medical bills can be overwhelming. At The Schafer Law Office, we understand and we’re here to help.
As a Louisville personal injury firm, we have a successful history of representing bicycle accident victims and their families and will use that experience to fight for the settlement or award you need. To schedule your free consultation, please contact us online today.