Winston & Damman Blog

Two Recent Deaths Highlight the Need for Preventing St. Clair County Bicycle Accidents

 In the decade spanning 2004–2013, six bicyclists lost their lives in accidents involving motor vehicles in St. Clair County, and another 230 were injured, according to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. Tragically, on May 26 and June 3, two bicyclists were killed within a mile of each other on a stretch of West Water Street in Port Huron Township.

Both victims were struck from behind between Westland Drive and Michigan Road. The motorist involved in the June 3rd crash was jailed briefly and later released. Alcohol is believed to have been a factor in the crash.

Authorities stated that this section of roadway does not have a history of being dangerous to travel, although they acknowledge that it is extremely busy, with many adjoining neighborhoods’ drivers emptying onto the roadway, and there’s not a lot of room for bicyclists and pedestrians. Some nearby residents reported that several streetlights were not functioning at the time of the accidents, rendering various stretches completely dark. Officials are investigating the matter.

To reduce bicyclist injuries and fatalities in Michigan, bicyclists need to be visible. Bikes should be fitted with reflectors and lights, and riders should wear bright colors and/or reflective gear, along with an approved safety helmet. Bicyclists should avoid riding on sidewalks, which endangers pedestrians and makes riders more difficult to see when entering intersections. Riders are subject to the same rules of the road as motorists.

Motorists need to be aware of their surroundings, follow traffic regulations, and realize that bicyclists have the same rights to the road as they do. Avoid drinking and driving, and eliminate cell phone use in any capacity while driving.

State and local government have their duties, too. For instance, roadways must be properly maintained to ensure safe travel, and adequate lighting should be provided in areas of heavy bicyclist and pedestrian usage.

Various legislative efforts are under way to improve bicyclist safety in Michigan. Expanded driver education, increased penalties for at-fault motorists, and mandatory minimum passing distances are all included in pending legislation.

If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a bicycling accident that was the fault of another, call our office for a no-charge, no-obligation consultation with one of our St. Clair County bike accident lawyers.

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Three Key Road Hazards that Cause Michigan Bicycle Accidents

With warmer weather finally here, bicyclists are getting out in droves and enjoying our local roads. And who can blame them? Biking is terrific exercise and can be a great way for families to enjoy the outdoors together. However, if you decide to go for a bike ride, it’s important that you make yourself aware of the potential dangers you may encounter, such as road hazards.

Because bikes are fairly unstable and have thin tires (especially road bikes), they tend to be susceptible to accidents caused by road hazards, some of which can include:

  • Potholes – Potholes, the scourge of Michigan roads in the springtime, are typically caused by either poor repair work done by public works crews of local municipalities or simply as a result of long-term wear and tear that has caused the road to crack, crumble and become unstable in certain spots.
  • Sewer grates – A dangerous situation can occur if sewer grates along the side of the road run in the same direction as traffic, since it can be very easy for cyclists to wedge a tire between the grates if they have to ride over them. In recent years many cities and counties have improved the design of sewer grates in their communities or changed the direction the gates run, but there still are many dangerous grates on our roads.
  • Railroad or trolley tracks – In much the same manner as sewer grates, the direction that rails or tracks run is a key element in determining how safe or unsafe they are. If they run with traffic or if they angle or curve across the roadway, they have the potential to create a serious road hazard for cyclists. Tracks that run perpendicular to the roadway tend to not be as dangerous.

In some instances, a local government, public entity or municipality can be held responsible for injuries to cyclists caused by road hazards. For that to happen, though, a number of factors will have to be taken into consideration, such as how long the hazard existed on the roadway and whether or not any steps were taken to reduce or eliminate the danger, or to properly warn cyclists of the danger.

Bottom line -- if you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to bicycle accident caused by a road hazard, you should contact our office to speak with an experienced Michigan bike accident injury attorney to discuss your situation. We’ll answer your questions and help you navigate any potential claim.

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