Changes in transportation patterns due to COVID-19 have altered the frequency of automobile and bicycle accidents. In New York City, which was hit early and hard by the coronavirus, reported bicycle accident injuries in the first full week of the lockdown were 43% higher than in the same period last year. Conversely, automobile collisions dropped by 33% during the same timeframe. These figures show that vehicle crashes of all types keep on occurring even with travel restrictions in place.
Numerous factors leading to more cyclists on the road
The rise in accidents involving cyclists stems from an increase in bikes on our streets and roads, resulting from:
- Cyclists looking to take advantage of less crowded streets and cleaner air
- Concern among city dwellers about COVID-19 exposure while using public transportation
- Gym closures and a lack of alternative options for recreation and fitness
- Extra time for people who no longer commute to work due to stay-at-home orders
- School closures prompting children to look for a safe, fun activity
However, many riders who only started biking regularly during the pandemic may not be familiar with road rules and necessary safety measures. It remains to be seen if the trend holds as more workplaces and recreational facilities reopen, but any incident where a motor vehicle strikes someone on a bicycle is serious because of the immense weight difference and lack of protection for the cyclist.
Though auto traffic is down, unsafe driving continues to cause accidents
Since serious lockdowns started in mid-March, the decrease in car accidents is not as dramatic as one might expect, given how sharply traffic has dropped over the same period. In some cities, police departments have found that motorists are trying to take advantage of empty roads to travel well above the speed limit. There have even been reports of an uptick in citations for street racing. Bike riders, pedestrians and drivers should remain alert even if they don’t see normal levels of activity on the streets.
Victims of vehicle collisions can seek legal relief despite court closures
Someone who is hurt while in a car or riding a bicycle has the right to seek legal action, even while courthouses are closed or on reduced schedules in some states. Insurance claims and lawsuits can be filed remotely and most lawyers can conduct client meetings through online conferencing. Since evidence gets more difficult to locate as time passes, taking prompt action on a claim could be the difference between a favorable outcome and disappointment. If you’ve been struck by a car while on your bike or injured in any type of automobile collision, don’t let the pandemic stop you from asserting your legal rights.