Is Bicycling Safe for Children in Rhode Island?

e65b5845610276e0e4ebe18ba15aa1bf-300x200Following the tragic death of a 6-year-old boy this summer on the East Bay Bike Path in Bristol, RI, avid bicyclists and concerned locals alike are asking- is it safe to ride a bike in Rhode Island? It’s a particularly perplexing question for parents of young children.  Kids are encouraged to get outside in the fresh air and exercise but at what risk? We proudly teach our children to ride a bike, ensure their helmet is properly strapped on, and explain the basics of road safety. But when a child is hit by a car and killed in a seemingly safe place to ride, the East Bay Bike Path, it’s natural we are going to have apprehensions. As Providence personal injury attorneys, Tapalian Law knows not only the enjoyment cycling can bring, but also the detrimental effects of a bicycling accident. Bicyclists injured in a RI bike accident can suffer brain trauma, head injuries, broken bones, internal bleeding, severe cuts and bruising, even death. While cycling can certainly be a great competitive sport or leisure activity, it can also be dangerous. As Rhode Island bike accident injury lawyers, we see catastrophic injuries and fatalities result when a bicycle collides with a vehicle. 

What is Rhode Island Doing to Make Bicycling Safer?

The Providence Journal recently asked bicycling advocates whether they think the biking systems in Rhode Island are safe for children and the responses were mixed. Much depends on where the child lives, goes to school, and whether the traffic in that area moves at slower speeds. Overgrown trees and bushes are a huge issue for bicyclists at crossings, making it difficult for bike riders and vehicle drivers alike to see each other. Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza cites that children can, in fact, safely ride in the city and that efforts are made to plan the city around people, not cars. He added that a city bicycling advisory council provides input into bike safety as new projects are developed throughout Providence. Bicycle crossings have been installed by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) at various busy intersections and “Sharrows”, symbols painted on the road with the symbol of a cyclist with arrows, were installed to remind drivers to share the road with bicyclists. After the death of the young boy in Bristol, RIDOT vowed to review every spot where dedicated bike paths cross roads. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) is responsible for maintenance issues along the bike path and Rhode Islanders are encouraged to contact them with maintenance concerns like shrubbery overgrowth.

Bicyclist Road Fatalities in Rhode Island

Over 800 people were killed in 2015 in the U.S. in crashes involving a bicycle and motor vehicle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Deaths among bicyclists under the age of 20 have declined tremendously since 1975, perhaps due to a bigger push for children to wear bicycle helmets and safer areas to ride. Alarmingly, deaths among bicyclists aged 20 and older have nearly tripled since 1975 and are more prevalent among males, according to helmets.org.  In Rhode Island, there were 11 deaths involving bicyclists from 2007-2016, according to the Providence Journal article.

2007:1

2008:1

2009:0

2010:2

2011:0

2012:2

2013:3

2014:0

2015:0

2016:2

Bicycle Safety Tips for Children & Adults

When it comes to kids riding a bike on their own, it is urged that a parent or other mature adult ride alongside the child until you feel comfortable they are able to make good judgments on their own. Children are not seasoned like most adult drivers and are less able to sense distracted or negligent drivers.

  • Some general safety rules for riding a bike:
    • Ride with the traffic flow. Ride on the right side in the same direction as other vehicles.
    • Obey all traffic laws, just as if you are driving an automobile.
    • Yield to traffic when appropriate.
    • Stay alert at all times and it goes without saying do not operate a bicycle, or any vehicle, under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
    • Look before turning and signal to notify other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
    • Watch for parked cars. Drivers may open their car door to exit and not realize a cyclist is riding by.

There are many good bicycling safety references for children online, including Safe KidsNHTSA, and Helmets.org.

Contact Tapalian Law if You Are Hurt in a Bicycle Accident in RI or MA

A person on a bicycle is no match for a heavy car or truck. A crash between a bicyclist and automobile frequently has a disastrous outcome. Severe personal injury can ensue including head trauma, broken bones, and fatalities. If your child, or another loved one, has been hit by a car while riding a bike, you need a skilled RI bike accident attorney on your side. An experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in bike accidents, like David Tapalian, can help you navigate the complicated legal process that follows a bike or car accident. When victims are injured, they often have no idea who to turn to for assistance. Attorney David Tapalian and his professional legal team knows how difficult the aftermath of a traumatic accident can be and will be by your side from start to finish. Tapalian Law will seek compensation on your behalf for your injuries and we do not get paid unless you are rewarded compensation. With offices in Providence, RI, and Seekonk, MA, we have successfully helped countless victims fight for fair treatment throughout the entirety of their legal case. Call us today at 401-552-5000, or email us, so we can begin the process of getting you on the road to recovery.

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