Bicyclist and Pedestrian Safety

As spring begins and with summer right around the corner, more Alabamians will walk and bike along an increasing number of popular bicycle and pedestrian lanes and paths.

Alabama Bicyclists At Greater Risk

Unfortunately, Alabama gets poor grades as a place to ride a bike. The League of American Bicyclists, a bicycle advocacy group since 1880, ranked Alabama 39th out of the 50 states. According to its “Bicycle Friendly Report Card”, Alabama ranks 49th in safety with 31 fatalities for every 10,000 bike commuter miles and 48th in the Legislation and Enforcement category. Here’s an example: Alabama law rightly requires all riders under 16 years of age to wear a helmet. However, the 3-tiered penalty scheme for failing to obey the law tops out at a maximum $50 fine. The penalty should be much tougher to protect kids.

According to Alabama Public Health, in 2015, children 15 and under accounted for 21% of the bicycle crash injuries. Bicycle helmets are up to 88% effective in preventing head and brain injuries, according to studies. Examining the data, universal bicycle helmet use by children 4-15 could prevent thousands of head injuries and scalp & face injuries annually.

Know & Follow Alabama Bicycling Laws

Accidents and injuries can be reduced by following these Alabama state laws:

  • Only ride on the seat
  • One rider per seat
  • Don’t attach to other vehicles while riding
  • Don’t ride on the sidewalk
  • Ride as close as possible to the right shoulder. If you ride within two-feet of the right shoulder, the law requires that vehicles not pass within three feet of you
  • On roads, ride no more than two abreast
  • Use bike paths rather than roads if available
  • Don’t carry anything that requires both hands
  • Equip the bike with a front light and rear reflector
  • Alabama law considers a bicycle to be a vehicle which requires the rider to follow all traffic laws such as stopping for traffic signals.

Pedestrians Safety Also A Concern

Pedestrians also appear to be at greater risk in Alabama. The Governors’ Highway Safety Association preliminarily reported that an estimated 59 pedestrians died on Alabama highways between January 2017 and June 2017. That’s a rate of 1.21 per 100,000 people and the 8th highest rate in the country. Pedestrians can reduce fatalities by:

  • Not suddenly entering a crosswalk into the path of an oncoming vehicle
  • Yielding to vehicles when crossing outside of a marked crosswalk
  • Not jaywalking
  • Obeying pedestrian traffic signals at intersections
  • Not texting while walking
  • Not walking while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Not walking while distracted by a phone

Rhonda Stricklin, associate director of the Center for Advanced Public Safety (CAPS) at the University of Alabama, said these high (fatality) numbers coupled with the distracted walkers she sees on campus scare her.

“I was surprised when I started looking at these numbers by how many pedestrians get killed every year, and that’s scary on our campus because there’s so many, and I see people just walking,” Stricklin said. “They do have the right of way, but if you’re dead, you’re dead. Even if you use that right of way, it pays for you just to look and just be sure before you step out into the road.”

Be careful out there!

If you’ve been involved in an accident while bicycling, or walking as a pedestrian, due to someone else’s negligence, contact our experienced Personal Injury attorneys. Clay, Massey & Associates offers FREE initial consultations and we have the experience to help get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 251-433-1000 or click the Live Chat link on our site!