While poor road quality is a hassle for motorists, it’s downright dangerous for bicyclists. Cyclists have less protection than drivers, and can experience greater risks when traveling at high speeds down an uneven or poorly kept road.
If you’re hurt in a cycling accident, and road quality is the cause, it’s possible you can hold the government–local, state, or federal–accountable for your injuries and losses. Public utilities are required to keep public roadways in safe conditions or provide fair warning of potential hazards. Knowing your rights as a cyclist can ensure that if you’re harmed while biking you won’t also be held responsible for pricey medical fees.
Common Cycling Hazards
- Sewer Grates: When sewer grates run parallel to the flow of traffic, bike tires can easily be trapped in the grooves. Chicago cyclist Katie Kolon was injured two years ago due to encountering such a grate while biking in Chicago. While the city has worked hard to replace these problematic grates, some still exist. If you’re unfortunate enough to catch your wheel in one and suffer an injury as a result, talk to Kryder Law’s personal injury attorneys about possible legal action.
- Potholes: No one, except a brave bird looking for a quick splash on a rainy day, likes a pothole. Potholes are particularly worrisome in early spring after winter has done its damage. While the City of Chicago has a program to reimburse drivers for damages as a result of potholes, this process is complicated and time-consuming. If you can, avoid puddles that may hide potholes, and bike slowly on rough roads so you can maneuver away from potholes.
- Rail and Trolley Tracks: Out of service trolley and rail tracks are particularly bad for bicyclists. If these tracks run at a curve, angle, or parallel to the flow of traffic, bike wheels can get caught in the grooves, causing a cyclist to risk neck trauma or other injuries. Again, the government is responsible for removing unused tracks, so contact your public officials if you are injured when biking over a track.
- Unsalted Roads: Cycling in areas that can freeze over means that ice becomes a major hazard. Unsalted roads freeze faster and create unseen hazards for bicyclists. Salted roads can also be dangerous even when they do not freeze. The layer of salt can slip under tires and cause your bike to slide or fall.
- Damaged Pavement: Bike tires, especially road bike tires, cannot handle heavily damaged roads. Potholes are a particular problem since they can stop your bike entirely if they are deep enough. Even if they don’t stop you, potholes can easily pop bike tires. Damaged roads also tend to have sharp, gravelly edges that can tear into bike tires easily.
- Uncleared Pathways: Uncleared pathways make it difficult to see where you are going or to identify hazards on the road. Bikes don’t stop very quickly when at cruising speeds so, you need to be able to see far ahead of you to avoid hazards. Many unclear pathways have plants or debris that can knock you off of your bike.
- Rocks: Rocks are a hazard because they can knock you off balance. They can also pop your tires if you hit them at a particularly high speed. Unfortunately, there are rocks on nearly every type of road and you need to do what you can to avoid them.
- Debris: Bikes don’t run over debris very well. If you hit a piece of debris, you risk popping a tire or losing your balance. Many times when bikers hit debris, it can get stuck in a tire and subsequently jammed in the spokes or the fork making it impossible to keep riding.
- Heat from the Road: If you ride in a place where the temperature is routinely in the three-digit range, then you have to worry about road heat. The road is much hotter than the air around it, and it could damage or weaken your tires. If you sit in one place too long, you risk having your tires melt or the pressure could increase so much that the tube ruptures.
- Traffic: Bikes often share roads with other vehicles and traffic is a major concern. Riding carelessly means that you could be hit by a car, which will cause a lot of damage. Drivers often don’t see bikes until they are very close, so the chances of getting hit are higher.
For a free legal consultation, call (312) 598-0739
Unfortunately, it can be a hassle to work with government offices when filing a complaint about sewer grates, potholes, or unused tracks–especially if you’re recovering from an injury at the same time. The bicycle accident attorneys at Kryder Law can help you navigate the system and determine if litigation is right for you.