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The Hidden Danger of Bicycle Tire Entrapment

Bicycling may now be more popular than ever in the U.S. Since the shutdown of many recreational activities, people have dusted off their long-forgotten bikes or have flocked to bicycle shops to purchase new ones. Since the emergence of COVID-19 as a global pandemic, sales of commuter/fitness bikes and leisure bikes have soared and increased by 121% and 66%, respectively. Are all of these new or newly returned bicyclists safe on the streets and roads?

Recognizing the Hidden Dangers for Bicyclists

While there are many obvious hazards that most bicyclists must avoid to be safe, there are some that lie hidden, waiting to inflict injury on the unsuspecting. 

The Risk of Bicycle Tire Entrapment in Light Rail Tracks

Bicycle tire entrapment by light rail (streetcar and trolley) tracks is one of the many hidden dangers for bicyclists. The thin tires of a modern bicycle can slip into and be trapped by the trench in which light rail tracks are laid. If a bicyclist rides parallel to a rail track or crosses it at too low an angle, a tire of the bike can become entrapped and the bicyclist can be violently thrown from the bike and suffer injuries.

Best Practices for Safely Navigating Rail Tracks on a Bicycle

Ideally, a bicyclist should cross rail tracks at a high angle(90º –perpendicular) and avoid riding parallel to them. The operators of streetcars and trolleys should install signs directing bicyclists to cross the tracks at a high angle and to stay a safe distance from the rails while riding parallel to them. Unfortunately, such warnings are not always provided and the burden falls to each bicyclist to navigate safely around rail tracks.

​​Enhancing Bike Safety

Safe bicycling extends beyond just navigating tracks. Here are some essential tips for a safer ride:

  • Regular Bike Maintenance: Keep your bike in top condition with regular check-ups.
  • Wearing Protective Gear: Helmets, knee pads, and reflective clothing can be lifesavers.
  • Situational Awareness: Always be aware of your surroundings and anticipate potential hazards.

Maintaining your bike, wearing appropriate protective gear, and honing situational awareness are key to ensuring your rides are both enjoyable and safe. However, should you find yourself in an unfortunate situation where you face injuries due to such hidden dangers, know that our experienced legal team is here to assist you.

Steps to Follow Post-Accident

Experiencing an accident can be disorienting and stressful. Knowing the right steps to take immediately after can not only ensure your safety but also protect your legal rights. Here are the detailed steps to follow:

1. Document the Incident

In the event of a bicycle accident, it’s essential to first stay calm and assess the situation. Make sure you are out of harm’s way and determine if immediate medical attention is needed. Once safe, try to document the accident scene by taking photos and videos, capturing your bicycle, any involved vehicles, the surrounding area, and the road or track conditions. This visual evidence can be crucial later on. Additionally:

  • Gather Witness Information: If witnesses are present, politely ask for their contact information. Their accounts can provide valuable perspectives and details about the accident.
  • Report the Accident: It’s important to notify the relevant authorities, such as the local police or transit authority. Filing a formal report is not only essential for legal reasons but also plays a significant role in any insurance claims.

2. Seek Medical Attention

It is imperative to seek an immediate medical evaluation, even if you feel fine. Often, certain injuries, particularly internal ones, may not be immediately apparent. A thorough check-up by a medical professional is crucial to ensure that any hidden injuries are identified and treated promptly. Additionally, it is important to meticulously keep all medical records, including reports, receipts, and prescriptions. These documents play a critical role in any insurance claims and potential legal action. They serve as vital evidence of the extent of your injuries and the medical attention received. 

3. Contact Legal Assistance

In the aftermath of a bicycle accident, one of the most important steps is to consult a bicycle accident attorney. An attorney who specializes in this field can offer invaluable legal advice and will guide you through the intricate process of any claims or lawsuits that may arise. It is important to avoid hastily settling with insurance companies or other involved parties without first consulting your attorney. Premature settlements can often lead to receiving less compensation than you rightfully deserve. Additionally, a knowledgeable lawyer will help you understand your rights and the legal implications of your accident. 

At Seay/Felton LLC, your safety and well-being, both on and off the road, are our top priorities. We understand that bicycling can sometimes lead to unforeseen and unfortunate incidents. If you are seeking more detailed safety tips to enhance your riding experience, or if you find yourself in need of understanding your legal rights and options as a bicyclist, contact us today. We are here to provide the guidance and support you need. 

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