It is common knowledge that U.S. infrastructure was designed and built with automobiles in mind. Motor vehicles are how most of us travel most of the time. This would be fine if there were safe spaces for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as laws that better protect them. Unfortunately, however, the heavy focus on the convenience of drivers has made most American cities hostile to any kind of non-motor-vehicle traffic.
Statistics bear this out. Between 2010 and 2019, bicyclist fatalities in urban areas of the United States increased by 49 percent. These were specifically crashes between bicyclists and motor vehicles. In 2019 alone, bicycle accidents resulted in 846 deaths and 49,000 injuries. Although not all of these accidents can be blamed on lack of safe infrastructure and inadequate safety laws, these two factors may be largely to blame.
States seek stricter bicycle safety laws, but not Indiana
Since the beginning of 2021, eight states have passed or strengthened laws governing how drivers must act when passing bicyclists on the road. Most require drivers to give bicyclists a minimum buffer of three feet. Some require drivers to change to another lane, when possible. In all, 44 states now have “safe-passing” laws related to bicyclists.
Only six states lack any such laws, and Indiana is one of them. None of our laws mandate specific actions drivers must take when passing a bicyclist. This is important because bicyclists are most often killed when vehicles strike them from behind. It is also important to have safe-passing laws because they make it possible for injured bicyclists to pursue criminal charges in addition to compensation in a personal injury lawsuit.
What options do you have if injured?
Even though Indiana doesn’t have safe-passing laws, bicyclists nonetheless have a right to expect that drivers will practice caution around them and drive in manner that reduces the likelihood of an accident. This is the duty of care that each driver owes every other person using the roads. Therefore, if you’ve been struck and injured in a crash caused by another driver’s negligence, you have the option (and likely the need) to seek compensation for your medical bills, property damage, lost wages and other damages in civil court.