Traveling on a bicycle serves many purposes these days. Whether you choose a bicycle as your main mode of transportation to get you to and from work, the grocery store, or anywhere else in the nearby vicinity, or you enjoy cycling for its exercise benefits and camaraderie with other friends and family, bicycling is a great and earth-friendly way to get around town. Before hopping on your bicycle, there are some rules and regulations in place in North Carolina to not only keep you safe, but to keep others around you safe, as well. It’s important to be aware of these laws so that you can not only avoid a traffic citation, but also so you can keep you and your loved ones out of harm’s way by avoiding a serious bicycle accident.
What laws are in place regarding bicycles in Charlotte?
According to BikeWalk NC, “Like other states, North Carolina traffic laws treat bicycles as vehicles and treat bicyclists as drivers of vehicles.” This means that while you are on your bicycle on a public road, you are considered to be the operator of a vehicle just like any driver of an automobile, and must obey all traffic laws that are in place for drivers. This means that you are required to stay within speed limits and stop for all traffic signals and signs. You are also required to use a signal when turning and to stay on the right side of the road at all times.
What can I do to avoid having a bicycle accident?
Although sometimes things can happen even though you are following all of the standard safety precautions when riding a bicycle, there are plenty of ways to practice safety standards when operating your bicycle, which are outlined below. First and foremost, be sure to use your best judgment and always pay careful attention to your surroundings when on any public road.
- Ride as far to the right-hand side as is safely possible – Often, vehicles will try to pass a bicyclist in order to get to their destination faster. In these instances, it is safest to be riding as far to the right as you can. Try to also use caution when you are passing cars that are at a stop and those that are headed in the same direction.
- Use bike paths – While riding a bicycle on a sidewalk is prohibited, if there is a bike path near the roadway, this is always a safe bet. These paths are specifically designed for bikers so that they do not interfere with oncoming vehicle traffic or pedestrians.
- Keep your hands on the handlebars at all times – Unless using one of your hands to signal a turn or for some other constructive purpose, it’s a good idea to keep your hands on the handlebars when at all possible. This not only prevents a fall, but it could help you make split-second decisions if need be to avoid a potential accident.
- Make sure your bicycle is up to safety standards – Every bicycle should have a light on the front of it and a red reflector on the back so that oncoming cars can see you at night. Every bike should also have a working brake system so help the bicycle come to a complete and sometimes urgent stop.
- Wear a helmet – This seems like an obvious tip, but sometimes it’s easier and less fuss to forget the helmet when you are just “riding a few blocks down the road.” Never leave home without your helmet. In case of an accident, a helmet can mean the difference between life or death in some instances.
What should I do if I am the victim of a bicycle accident in Charlotte, NC?
Call the authorities
The first and most urgent step when you are involved in a bicycle accident is to call the police authorities and a medical professional. Whether it is a minor bump-up or a more severe situation, it is always a good idea to have a police officer come to the scene of the wreck to create a report. If the driver who hit you was distracted, potentially under the influence, or disobeying traffic laws, then this report will help you to reach a settlement for compensation if you choose to go that route. Additionally, a medical professional’s report will also be helpful in a case such as this, and it is wise to have yourself checked out for health reasons after an accident, as well. You never know if there could be a hidden issue with your health that could be directly caused by this accident.
Take photos of the accident
If you are able to take photos of the scene of the accident, try to make every effort to do so. Your photos are an incredibly helpful tool to your car accident attorney in Charlotte when he or she is trying to re-create the accident in a courtroom setting. These photos could help to give a better idea of what actually happened. When taking photos, try to capture images of every vehicle or bicycle involved, and also pay mind to the surrounding area, such as roads with skid marks or road signs, traffic lights or business signs that have been damaged in the accident.
Gather witness statements
In many cases involving an accident of any kind, there are other drivers or pedestrians who witness what happened and are more than willing to give a statement of what they saw. It is important to seek out these witnesses so that you can record their information (name, phone number and email address if they are willing to share it) and a statement from them about what they saw happen. Just like photos re-create the scene of the accident, many times witness statements can clarify what was happening directly before, during and after the wreck, making it easier for your car accident attorney in Charlotte to fight for your compensation.
Contact your attorney regarding your bicycle accident case
Accidents of any kind can be potentially life altering. New medical bills, potentially physical recuperation and the emotional effects of a scary situation can all leave a trail of stress and anxiety behind. Our attorneys at Ted A. Greve and Associates would love to walk through this difficult time with you, and to help you get the best settlement possible for your accident.