Who could forget the tragic events of Mardi Gras 2019 when a drunk driver plowed into a packed bicycle lane, killing two cyclists and injuring seven others? The crime, for which the driver was sentenced to 90 years in prison, was among the most egregious examples of a driver acting aggressively toward and with wanton disregard for cyclists. Crashes involving motor vehicles and bicycles in the Bayou State, however, are far from rare and are a growing problem as more people opt to make cycling their primary mode of transportation.
Cycling Is Safer Overall, But More Deadly Crashes With Motor Vehicles
As millions more Americans take up cycling to get around, cities and states have increasingly focused on bicycle safety measures, such as creating bike lanes and clarifying traffic laws as they relate to cyclists. Safety efforts such as higher helmet use among cyclists have helped significantly reduce Emergency Department visits due to bicycle accidents, which are down 41 percent between 2009 and 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At the same time, however, fatal crashes involving motor vehicles and cyclists have increased by nearly 40 percent. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 857 cyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2018. Most cyclists who are killed are hit by light-weight trucks and most of those are hit from behind. Excessive motor vehicle speed plays a huge role in cyclists fatalities, as does time of day, with the hours between 6pm and midnight being the most dangerous for bicycle riders.
Louisiana Bicycle Riders
Bicycle ridership has grown across Louisiana over the last decade. This growth has happened most dramatically however in New Orleans, where our mild winters and flat roads make bicycle commuting ideal. Other factors that are helping encourage bike ridership in New Orleans are a city-run bike share program, strong advocate community, bike-friendly planning, and strong laws to protect cyclists. In fact, New Orleans now ranks fifth among U.S. cities with the most bicycle commuters.
Unfortunately, however, Louisiana also is consistently ranked among the most deadly states for cyclists. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Louisiana was the second most deadly state for cyclists in 2012 and fourth in 2016 with a rate of 4.7 cyclist fatalities per 100,000 residents. A recent report from an auto insurance industry publication found Baton Rouge to be among the top ten most dangerous U.S. cities for cyclists.
Louisiana Laws and Bicycle Safety
It’s important to understand your legal rights and responsibilities when bicycling in Louisiana, especially if you or someone you love has been injured in a bicycle accident. Under Louisiana law, bicycles are treated as vehicles for the most part, and bike riders are generally given the same rights and duties as drivers of motor vehicles.
Under Louisiana law, any person under the age of 12 riding a bicycle, as an operator or passenger, must wear a helmet.
Rules for Bicyclists Under Louisiana Law
Requirements for Bicycles
Bicycles are required to have the following equipment:
Under Louisiana law, an electric-assisted bicycle must be rated no more than 50cc, have an automatic transmission, and have a maximum speed of 25mph on flat surface. E-bikes are considered the same as traditional bicycles under Louisiana law, except that riders must be 16 years of age or older and wear a helmet unless they have a health insurance policy with medical benefits over $10,000.
What Louisiana Bicycle Law Does Not Do
Other Vehicle Operators & Bicycles Under Louisiana Law
Steps to take if you have been injured in a Bike Accident in Louisiana
Contact The Charbonnet Law Firm Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bike accident in Louisiana, call the dedicated team of attorneys at Charbonnet Law Firm right away. We have been winning for our personal injury clients in New Orleans and the surrounding parishes for more than five decades. At Charbonnet Law Firm, we will help you understand your case and your options for compensation. If you choose to pursue your case, we will be there every step of the way, protecting your interests and fighting for the best possible outcome. Call today for a free consultation.