The 5 Most Common Types of Bicycle Injuries (and How to Avoid Them)

by cjadmin | February 12th, 2024

With the increasing popularity of cycling for transportation and as a recreational activity, riders need to be aware of its potential risks. California, in particular, has seen a surge in cycling enthusiasts, but with it, an increase in accidents.

Our detailed guide offers insights into common bicycle injuries and their causes, along with strategies for accident prevention. If you are injured in a bicycle accident, contact a California bike accident lawyer to help you recover damages.

Common Bicycle Injuries

Cycling can lead to many injuries, with 38,886 bicyclists hurt in 2020 in the United States according to data from the NHTSA. As the fourth most bike-friendly state, California accounts for many of these injuries.

Here are the most common bicycle injuries, their causes and risk factors, and common scenarios you might encounter:

Type of InjuryCausesRisk FactorsCommon ScenariosSafety Measures
Accidents Involving Motor VehiclesCollisions with cars, trucks, or other motor vehicles, often at intersections or driveways.Riding on busy roads, lack of dedicated bike lanes, riding in a vehicle’s blind spot.Being hit from behind at a stop sign, side collisions when a vehicle turns across a bike lane.Use bike lights and reflective clothing, follow traffic rules, avoid riding in blind spots, use hand signals.
FallsLosing balance due to slippery surfaces, sudden stops, or incorrect maneuvering.Riding on wet, icy, or uneven terrain, inexperienced riders, mechanical failures.Slipping on wet roads, falling over due to a sudden stop or obstacle, mechanical issues causing falls.Wear a helmet, use non-slip pedals, keep the bike in good condition, avoid sudden maneuvers.
Overuse InjuriesRepetitive strain injuries due to prolonged riding, improper bike fit or posture.Long-duration rides without breaks, poor ergonomic bike setup, lack of conditioning.Developing wrist, knee, or back pain after long rides, numbness due to poor saddle position.Regularly adjust bike fit, take frequent breaks, use ergonomic accessories, condition muscles.
Collisions with PedestriansUnexpected movements by pedestrians, such as stepping into a bike lane without looking.Riding in crowded urban areas, inattentive pedestrians, high foot traffic zones.Pedestrians suddenly stepping onto bike paths, collisions in crosswalks or sidewalks.Stay alert in crowded areas, slow down in pedestrian zones, use a bell or horn to alert pedestrians.
Road HazardsEncountering potholes, uneven roads, debris, or other obstacles in the path.Poorly maintained roads, inadequate road signage, lack of visibility.Cyclist swerving to avoid a pothole and losing control, crashing due to hitting unexpected road debris.Watch for road hazards, use lights in low visibility, avoid distractions, maintain a safe speed.

Importance of Safety Gear and Equipment

Always wear the appropriate gear when riding a bicycle in California, and ensure your bike has the right safety equipment. This includes the following:

  • Helmets. Mandated by state law for those under 18, all bicyclists should wear a helmet to protect their heads when riding. The helmet should meet the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards, per CA Vehicle Code 21212(a).
  • Padded gloves. Wear padded gloves to improve your grip, cushion your hands during long rides, and offer protection in case of falls.
  • Padded cycling shorts. Consider padded cycling shorts for increased comfort on the saddle. They help reduce friction and prevent chafing, especially on longer journeys.
  • High-visibility clothing. Wear bright or reflective clothing to make yourself more visible to motorists, especially at dawn, dusk, or night, to improve your safety on the road.
  • Appropriate eyewear. Use sunglasses or clear protective lenses to shield your eyes from the sun’s glare, wind, and airborne debris.
  • Elbow and knee pads. Elbow and knee pads can prevent serious injuries during falls, especially in areas with rough concrete or uneven surfaces.
  • Proper footwear. Wear closed-toe shoes with a firm sole for better pedal grip and better control and to protect your feet from injuries.
  • Brake, handlebars, lights. Per CA Vehicle Code 21201, your bike needs a skid-capable brake and handlebars at a safe height. For night riding, it needs a front white light visible from 300 feet, rear red reflector or light visible from 500 feet, pedal reflectors visible from 200 feet, and side reflectors or reflectorized tires.

General Tips: Responsible Biking Practices

Cyclists can minimize their risk by practicing road awareness and responsible biking practices. This includes the following:

  • Always ride in the same direction as the traffic flow.
  • Use hand signals to indicate turns and stops.
  • Stay alert and avoid distractions like headphones or phones.
  • Yield the right-of-way when required and be courteous to other road users.
  • Use designated bicycle lanes if available.
  • Give yourself enough distance from parked cars to avoid dooring.
  • Attend bicycle safety courses to improve riding skills.

Consult an Attorney if You’re Hurt in a Bicycle Accident

If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, don’t wait to get the help you need. Reach out to our experienced attorneys today to protect your rights and start your journey toward recovery.

We can use all that we’ve learned in our more than 40 years of experience to review your case and help you get a fair settlement to pay for your damages. Contact us today for a free consultation.