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Pedestrian crashes: Bicyclists need to watch out, too

When you think about pedestrian crashes, you probably assume that the pedestrian is impacted by a motorist. What you may not consider is the damage that can be done by a cyclist who strikes a pedestrian.

Even with a cyclist's impact, a pedestrian can suffer serious injuries. These crashes are usually less serious than those involving motor vehicles -- but not always. How can you avoid hitting a pedestrian while riding your bike?

1. Keep your eyes open

In most cases, cyclists ride ride in bicycle lanes, so there is a lower risk of pedestrians coming into contact with them as long as they're aware of the possibility of cyclists riding on the roads.

2. Know why pedestrian-cyclist crashes happen

Many of these collisions occur because either party is distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Some cyclists may ride poorly-maintained bikes, fail to follow the rules of the road or fail to yield to the pedestrian's right-of-way.

The most important thing that cyclists or pedestrians can do to stay safer is to obey traffic signals and road markings so that they don't accidentally cross into each other's paths.

3. Know your responsibilities

Pedestrians should use marked crosswalks, follow traffic signals, cross only when there is no oncoming traffic and walk in designated areas. If you're intoxicated, it's a bad idea to walk on or near the road.

Cyclists should maintain their bikes and follow the rules of the road to avoid unexpectedly coming into contact with pedestrians.

4. Know what to do if there is a crash

If there is a collision between a cyclist and a pedestrian, call 911 immediately to get emergency help. While a cyclist-pedestrian crash may not seem as serious as other types of traffic accidents, there is a potential for cuts, impalement, head injuries and other serious wounds that need immediate care.

Bicyclists can ride at fairly high speeds, so while a crash may appear more minor, there is a risk of hidden or delayed injuries that need to be medically evaluated. A thorough medical exam will also provide documentation of any injuries caused by the impact. A paper trail is vital to the successful resolution of any claims for compensation, so make sure that your injuries are documented officially.

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