Bicycling is a wonderful alternative to automobiles for commuting and other travel. Opting for two wheels saves money, decreases the environmental impact of the commute, and provides terrific health benefits to the rider. However, our North Florida personal injury law firm knows that riding is not without risk.
As a Panama City bicycle accident attorney and a proud North Florida resident, our lawyer was saddened to read in The Walton Sun that an area cyclist was killed last week. Anthony Edward Cory Hinds, a 21-year-old Fountain resident, left his job at Hardee's restaurant on the night of February 1, 2011. Hinds was using a bicycle to commute north on U.S. 231 in the Youngstown area. He was riding in an outside highway lane, just south of Preacher Johns Road, when he was hit by a car. The automobile, a Chevy Cavalier, was driven by Thomas Allen Samuels.
The impact from this collision launched Hinds into the middle of the road where two more cars, a Toyota Tercel driven by 18-year-old Amber Mae Gee and a Dodge Durango helmed by 39-year-old Mayibuye Umojaha Aquil, hit the rider. Emergency personnel pronounced Hinds dead at the scene of the accident. Criminal charges had not been filed at the time of the Sun's report, but the Florida Highway Patrol was still investigating the incident.
Both cyclists and drivers bear responsibility for ensuring that the roadways are safe for all travelers. In general, Florida cyclists are required to obey the same rules of the road that apply to cars. Bicycles should be ridden in dedicated lanes where available, and to the right-most portion of the roadway if no bike lane is available, and the cycle is moving slower than surrounding vehicle traffic. Proper lighting (including a white headlamp, read rear-lamp, and reflectors) is required by Florida law for bikes ridden between sunset and sunrise. Although the law only mandates helmets for cyclists under age 16, all riders should consider a helmet to be a mandatory part of their riding gear.
Auto drivers are also required to be alert and to share the road with both other motorized vehicles and bicycles. Drivers should take particular care when passing bicycles. The Florida Bicycle Association makes a special note that drivers should avoid passing a rider to make an immediate turn in front of the rider's path. Bikes are often moving faster than drivers realize, so turning in front of a rider can lead to a collision. The Association also reminds drivers that they are required to have at least 3 feet in clearance when passing a bicycle, and that passing closer to a rider's side is a dangerous proposition.
If you have suffered an injury in a Panama City bicycle accident, please call our firm to discuss your legal rights. Our team is available 24/7 to schedule a free consultation with our experienced Panama City injury lawyer. Seeking compensation for your own injuries not only helps you move forward from a crash, but also helps keep the road safe for fellow cyclists by reminding drivers of the importance of sharing the road with all travelers.