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Staying Safe While Biking on Our Cincinnati Roadways

By Burg Simpson
August 6, 2020
6 min read

Ohio is one of the most bike-friendly states in the U.S. In addition to being a great way to get some exercise, biking is also an accessible and popular mode of transportation. Unfortunately, motorist-related bicycle collisions in Cincinnati too often result in severe injuries or even loss of life.

As more people enjoy being outdoors on their bikes during the summer months, riders can stay safe by having a thorough understanding of Ohio’s traffic regulations, wearing the proper gear, and becoming familiar with the basics of bicycle safety.

Bicycle Collision Statistics

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 857 bicyclists in the U.S. lost their lives in traffic collisions in 2018.

Common Causes of Bicycle Collisions

The most common causes of collisions between cyclists and motorists are:

  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Speeding
  • Failure to stop at a stop sign or red light
  • Riding against traffic
  • Premise Liability (road obstruction or poor road conditions)

Ohio Traffic Laws Governing Cyclists

Like all states, the State of Ohio requires cyclists to adhere to the same traffic rules and regulations as motor vehicles. There are, however, several laws that pertain specifically to cyclists:

  1. Cyclists must ride as close to the right side of the road as safely possible.
  2. Cyclists must not ride more than two abreast.
  3. Every bicycle must be equipped with the following:
  • A lamp mounted on the front of either the bicycle or the operator that shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and 300 feet to the sides. A generator-powered lamp that emits light only when the bicycle is moving may be used to meet this requirement;
  • A red reflector on the rear will be visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle;
  • A lamp emitting either flashing or steady red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear will be used in addition to the red reflector. If the red lamp performs as a reflector in that it is visible as specified in division (A) (2) of this section, the red lamp may serve as the reflector and a separate reflector is not required.

Specific laws that pertain to cyclists can be found in Chapter 4511 of the Ohio Revised Code.

Protect Yourself by Being a Safe Cyclist

  1. Wear a helmet. Even though Ohio state law does not require that cyclists wear helmets, those familiar with bike crashes strongly encourage all cyclists to wear a helmet while sharing our roadways with motorists. Personal injury lawyers and first responders can attest that the use of helmets can significantly reduce the likelihood of suffering a head injury. Wear a properly fitted helmet every time you ride. Wearing a helmet can reduce the severity of head and brain injuries.
  2. Wearing brightly colored clothing will help you become more visible to motorists. Consider wearing a bright jersey, helmet, and socks to make sure that drivers see you.
  3. Equip your bike with a white front headlight and a red rear reflector for riding in twilight, darkness, and poor weather conditions.
  4. Use shatter-resistant protective eye wear.
  5. Use reflective tape on your bike, clothing, and helmet at night to increase your visibility.
  6. Carry a tire pump, tire levers, patch kit, and spare tube.
  7. Carry water or a sports drink using a water bottle holder.
  8. Carry personal identification and updated medical information.
  9. Carry your cell phone so you can:
  • Call your “In Case of Emergency” contacts
  • Call the police
  • Call an ambulance
  • Document the site of an incident and injuries

See Burg Simpson’s Bike Safety Video here.

Assessing Liability in Bike Collisions

If you or someone you love has sustained severe injuries as a cyclist involved in a collision, you will have to prove negligence on the part of the driver in order to recover damages.

  • Drivers and cyclists owe each other a duty to navigate the road with a “reasonable degree of care.”
  • To prove a breach of duty, you will need evidence to show that the driver or the rider failed to navigate the road with a reasonable degree of care.  Texting, speeding, and being under the influence of drugs or alcohol are examples of failure to exhibit a reasonable degree of care.
  • If you were injured as a result of a breach of duty, you must show that the other party caused the incident.

Comparative Fault Law in Ohio

It is possible for both the plaintiff and the defendant to be at fault in a bicycle collision.

Ohio is a modified comparative fault state meaning that the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover will be reduced by the percentage that reflects their degree of fault. Additionally, if the degree of fault is greater than 50 percent, the cyclist is prohibited from recovering any damages.

For example:

A group of three bicyclists are riding abreast on a busy city street. (This is in violation of traffic regulations because Ohio law states that riders will not ride more than two abreast). A motorist attempts to pass the three cyclists while he texting, and clips the rider on the far left. The bicyclist is thrown from her bike, crashes onto the pavement, and suffers severe injuries. The rider files a personal injury claim and sues the driver for $2 million.

The Cincinnati court rules that the driver was 75% at fault for the incident because he was texting and driving. The rider was found to be 25 percent at fault for riding three abreast.

In our example, the cyclist could recover a maximum of 75 percent, or $1.5 million. If, however, the cyclist was found to be 51 percent at fault, she could not recover any damages.

Following a Bike Crash

If you are involved in a bike collision, it is important to do the following:

  1. Seek immediate medical attention because your health and safety is your first priority. Even if you don’t think you were injured, get a physical examination by a physician as soon as possible following the collision. You may not exhibit symptoms of serious injuries for many hours or even days after an accident.
  2. Notify the police. Call the police to conduct an investigation and draft a police report. This will help you when you file an insurance claim and a lawsuit.
  3. Obtain the driver’s contact information. Get the driver’s name, contact information, insurance information, and license plate number.
  4. Obtain witness information. Get witnesses’ names, their contact information, insurance information, and license plate numbers.
  5. Document the incident. Using your cell phone, take pictures of the scene, and your injuries, and any damages to your bike.

Call Now for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle collision, call the experienced Cincinnati personal injury lawyers at Burg Simpson today at (513) 852-5600.

Or click here to fill out an evaluation form now.


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