Articles Posted in Bicycle Accidents

Maine e-bike accident levels have continued to rise as e-bike usage climbs throughout the nation and the state of Maine. Nationally, the sale of e-bikes has rapidly increased, with roughly 804,000 sold in 2021, up from only about 152,000 in 2016, according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association. E-bikes are a popular vehicle option for several reasons, including convenience, costs savings on gas, and reduced environmental impact relative to cars.

Unfortunately, e-bikes pose an elevated risk relative to conventional bicycles due to the greater velocity of e-bikes. The greater power and subsequent velocity that riders receive from e-bikes places riders at increased risk of accidents, and greater harm resulting from such accidents. In fact, a 2020 study published in the peer-reviewed journal, Injury Prevention, found that riders of e-bikes are more likely to require hospitalization following accidents than riders of manual bicycles.

Recently, a news article by the New York Times detailed the tragic death of a 12-year-old female rider of an e-bike who died after the e-bike got out of control, resulting in an accident. According to the article, the accident occurred after the rider and a friend rode an e-bike to the top of a hill. They rode the e-bike down the hill when it rapidly began to pick up speed. At that point, the rider tried to engage the brakes, but the front wheel began to wobble, and she lost control, throwing both of them from the e-bike. Paramedics took her to a hospital, where she underwent several brain surgeries. She never regained consciousness. Both passengers were wearing helmets while using the e-bike. The article states that the disc brakes used for the e-bike in conjunction with a quick-release mechanism for detaching the front wheel are well-known safety hazards in the bike industry.

Maine biking accidents can have disastrous effects on cyclists, pedestrians, and any road user in the vicinity. The cyclist experiences the most significant injuries and subsequent damages in many cases. As a result of the growing concern about bike accidents in Maine and throughout the country, the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) lead a study to understand the prevalence and risk factors of bicycle crashes. The NTSB analyzed crash and injury data and interviewed national and local traffic safety stakeholders.

The agency identified three primary safety issue areas in the report: (1) improving roadway infrastructure for bicyclists, (2) enhancing conspicuity, and (3) mitigating head injury. According to the study, while more bike crashes involving motor vehicles occur at intersections, crash severity is higher when an accident occurs at a midblock location. The agency asserts that improving public road infrastructure with distinct bike lanes and road diets can reduce the likelihood of accidents at intersections and midblock crossings. Road diets refer to a roadway reconfiguration that eliminates travel from the road and utilizes space for other uses, such as bicycles.

Further, although there are different reasons why drivers and bikers may not detect each other in time to prevent an accident, enhancing conspicuity can reduce these occurrences. Cyclists wearing reflective clothing, bikes with lights, and in-vehicle crash warning systems could alert motorists to bicycle traffic. Finally, because head injury is the leading cause of bike-related deaths, bike helmets are an effective way to mitigate this concern.

Recently, a cyclist was seriously injured after being involved in a bike accident in Portland, Maine. According to a local news report, the collision occurred on the corner of Mellen St. and Park Ave. at around 2:30 in the afternoon. When emergency responders arrived on the scene, they found the cyclist in critical condition and transported him to the Maine Medical Center. The driver of the vehicle involved in the accident suffered minor injuries and was transported to a different hospital.

Police are still investigating the cause of the accident, and are asking anyone with knowledge of the collision to come forward.

Maine Bike Accidents

Bicycles are a great way to get around Maine in the warmer months. However, cycling is not without its risks. For example, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, in 2019, nearly 850 people were killed in bike accidents. The vast majority of these collisions were entirely preventable.

How to Stay Safe When Cycling in Maine

Cyclists should always follow some basic safety tips when riding on Maine roads.

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Under Maine law, motorists involved in an accident must stop at the incident scene or return to the scene. Those who leave the scene of an accident may face severe criminal and civil penalties. In addition, engaging in this negligent conduct can exacerbate a victim’s injuries and cause a fatality that could have otherwise been prevented. While a hit-and-run can occur in an accident, they tend to occur after a motorist hits a pedestrian or cyclist. These accidents often occur in the early morning or late evening hours on roads without a designated bike lane.

There are many reasons why a motorist may leave the scene of an accident; however, these explanations rarely excuse the driver’s conduct. Drivers frequently leave the scene of an accident because they were:

  • Under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
  • Operating their vehicle without a valid license or insurance,
  • Avoiding liability or fearful of confrontation,or
  • Experiencing a medical event.

In some situations, the driver may claim that they did not know they hit another person.

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With spring in full swing and summer almost here, we’re seeing more bicyclists take to the streets in Maine cities like Bangor and Portland. Our Bangor injury lawyers are encouraging all drivers to use extra caution and remember that Maine Bicycling Law affords bicyclists most of the same rights, and responsibilities, as any motorist.

State law also requires those behind the wheel maintain a three-foot distance when passing bicyclists and to use extra care if they observe a child bicyclist.

It’s easy sometimes to forget how dangerous Maine roads can be for bicyclists, thanks to drivers who are careless, distracted or drunk. May is National Bike Month, and the National Safety Council reports a nearly 30 percent increase in collisions during the last eight years. There were more than 1,000 bicyclist deaths in 2017, nearly 700 of those involving motor vehicles.

Unfortunately, many who cause bicycle accidents – even serious ones – are often given a slap on the wrist. Continue reading

As we recently reported on our Maine Injury Lawyer Blog, May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. As riders hit the road each spring, they face the highest risks of the year. And already this month, we have reports of a slew of serious and fatal motorcycle accidents throughout the state, including the death of a 24-year-old Portland man and a motorcycle crash in Acton that resulted in serious head injuries for a Barrington couple involved in a Saturday evening crash.

Our Maine motorcycle accident lawyers also note safety advocates are focused on the other two-wheel riders hitting the roads this spring. Like motorcycle accidents, the number of serious and fatal bicycle accidents in Maine spikes each year as the last of the snow melts. Coastal Journal reports the City of Bath will be among those promoting Bike to Work Week on May 14-18, which culminates in Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 18. Fitness advocates and environmentalists continue to promote cycling as a means of physical activity that offers environmental benefits and cost savings of up to $8,000 a year for those who regularly bike to work.

Maine Bicycle Accidents:  Men at Risk

A community in Central Maine is mourning the loss of a longtime family physician who was killed in a bicycle accident after she was struck by a pickup truck.

Bicycle vs. truck accidents are not necessarily more common than bicycle vs. car collisions, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, they tend to be more serious because cyclists are vulnerable road users, and pickup trucks are so much larger and heavier than typical passenger vehicles. Unfortunately, truck drivers are not required to carry more insurance than those operating smaller vehicles. This is why it’s a smart idea for all bicyclists to maintain ample uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, which will supplement damages in the event of being struck by a driver who is not identified (hit-and-run), uninsured, or underinsured (only carries minimum coverage).

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During this past summer, a 23-year-old suffered serious injuries in a Portland bicycle accident that occurred at the intersection of State Street and Cumberland Avenue. Although the cyclist’s injuries were not life-threatening, the incident raised questions for local news outlets about the most dangerous intersections for bicyclists in Portland. 

The Bangor Daily News first turned to the Maine Department of Transportation, which revealed there were more than 250 bicycle accidents in Portland between 2011 and 2015. Reporters compared this data with the average daily traffic counts from 2013 to ascertain the most dangerous intersections for cars and bicycles.

In that five-year time frame, the Portland intersection with the most crashes was at Park Street and York Street. There were a total of five bicycle-versus-vehicle crashes counted at that location over the five-year period. Reporters conceded, though, that this particular intersection has a high traffic volume. When the numbers were controlled for traffic volume, the intersection with the most crashes-per-volume was Adelaide Street and Read Street at Forest Avenue, which had four crashes during the five-year time frame. The three-way intersection branches off Forest Avenue, which is one of Portland’s most active roadways.

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The latest report from The League of American Bicyclists puts Maine at the top when it comes to bicycle friendliest in New England.

The state ranked 15th nationally, behind the other New England states of Delaware, which ranked No. 3, and Massachusetts, which ranked No. 4. Meanwhile, New Hampshire ranked 27th, Connecticut 22nd and Vermont 17th.

The scoring criteria for “bicycle friendliness” was based on legislation and enforcement of bicycle safety laws, existing policies and programs, infrastructure and funding, education and encouragement and evaluation and planning.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court recently affirmed a judgment favoring a bicyclist struck and run over by a bus driver, dismissing defendant’s argument that the cyclist’s own actions prevented her from obtaining compensation.

At issue in Semian v. Ledgemere Transportation, Inc. was 29 – A M.R.S. § 2070 (6). This statute allows that a bicyclist may pass a vehicle on the right in certain situations, but does so “at their own risk.”

Because of this provision, defendant bus company argued it could not be held liable for injuries sustained to a bicyclist who was attempting to pass on the right.

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