Rules for Biking with Caution in Philadelphia

To improve the quality of biking in downtown Philadelphia, the city is planning to create a public bike-share system in the autumn of 2014. This will likely result in more bicyclists on the road and everyone will need to pedal safely. This system will consist of 150 to 200 bike share stations throughout the city with up to 2,000 bikes. The plan was announced in August 2013. Mayor Michael A. Nutter stated that the city was investing $3 million in the program.

According to an instructional video produced by the League of American Bicyclists with support of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the organization recommends some biking rules.

NTHSA recommended rules for biking:

1. Ride a bike that fits you properly to ensure a safer and more enjoyable ride.

2. Wear a bicycle helmet for biking.

3. Ride with lights and reflectors ( MANDATORY NOTE: white front light and red rear light as required in every state).

4. When biking at night time, wear bright and/or reflective clothing that allows you be seen by motorists.

5. Check your tire air pressure, brakes, cranks, chain and cassette before every ride. Ensure no parts on your bike are loose.

The video also notes that bikers have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle operators. In addition, it includes biking and bike riding tips.

However, accidents do occur. In August 2012, a bicyclist in Philadelphia was hit by a cab and he suffered several injuries as a result. The bicyclist was approaching the intersection downtown and was struck when the cab tried to make a left-turn. In a lawsuit filed in September 2013, the cab driver and the cab company are named as defendants and are being accused of various acts of negligence; these charges include failing to have a motor vehicle under proper control, failing to yield to an oncoming driver while making a left turn, driving at an excessive rate of speed and failing to give proper and sufficient warning of approach. The bicyclist is seeking $50,000 in damages in addition to litigation costs, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and other relief.

Philadelphia currently has designated bike lanes in its downtown area; however, even with these lanes, bicyclists are in constant danger of being hit by a motor vehicle. Many of Philadelphia‘s streets were created when significantly fewer automobiles were plying down them. Bike users are at risk for serious injuries, including broken bones and the need for surgery.

“We often find that during litigation, the drivers of cars, trucks and buses just don’t see the bike users,” said personal injury attorney Bruce Ginsburg Esq. of Ginsburg & Associates in Philadelphia, PA. “This is very much the same for motorcycle users who are often seriously injured or killed. Primary importance is to wear a helmet and to assume that the drivers don’t see you.”

Ginsburg & Associates is dedicated to representing injured people. Attorneys at the firm have expertise regarding injuries and losses resulting from bicycle accidents.

A recent study showed that users of bike share systems in Boston, MA and Washington, DC, tended to wear helmets at lower rates than those who were riding their own bicycles. According to the study, four out of five individuals in the bike shares did not wear helmets whereas approximately half of those riding their own bicycles did wear a helmet.

In addition to wearing a helmet and having the proper equipment, knowing in advance recommended biking routes is important. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has posted commuter routes on its website.

If you have been injured in an accident, please contact Ginsburg & Associates at (215) 564-4400. We can provide you with a free consultation.