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NC Cyclist Pursues Bike Safety Up to His Death

Apr 23, 2015 - Bicycle Accidents by

The News & Observer reports that drivers in North Carolina hit about 960 bicyclists and 2,200 pedestrians each year. Chapel Hill alone saw 41 bicycle crashes within a recent five-year period.

On October 18, 2014, Kent Winberry, a popular bicyclist and active advocate for legislative changes to promote rider safety, became part of those statistics after an accident with a car. Sadly, Winberry died 10 days later, but his continued fight for safety until the time of his death may have spurred changes in Chapel Hill that can save future lives.

An Inspiration for Bike Safety Advocates

Even when riders wear full protective gear, bikes provide little protection against injuries caused by motor vehicles. Considering that Charlotte bicycle accident lawyers see tragic results from these crashes all too frequently, it is clear that riders need to diligently campaign for effective solutions.

According to Indy Week, Winberry wrote to state legislators back in 2010 to propose concerns about a bill that would require riders to travel two-abreast or single file on the roads. His 40 years of cycling experience made it clear that motorists treat larger packs of bikes as vehicles, and drive more safety around them.

He also participated actively with local and national bicycling groups. In fact, his final act of advocacy occurred in his hospital room when he talked with a representative from the League of American Bicyclists about infrastructural and other changes needed within the city.

Many Safety Changes Come at the Local Level

Many laws regarding bicyclists are in effect at the state level, but many local communities institute additional safety measures. Bicyclists need to stay current on local laws and procedures introduced at the local level. During the same month of Winberry’s fatality — and the death of another rider — Chapel Hill introduced a new plan to protect riders and pedestrians.

In addition to allowing bike riders to use sidewalks in certain areas (with a number of stipulations not known by many riders), the town added some new safety features:

  • The placement of digital signs to alert drivers of high-accident areas
  • An app to allow riders to notify town staff members about unsafe areas
  • Flashing lights that pedestrians can activate within a number of mid-block crosswalks

Local changes in the law can occur at any time, but bicyclists do not typically hear about them. Riders can and should take a proactive approach to stay current by monitoring the internet frequently. Active participation in local bicycling groups also serves to keep riders informed while also providing a means for raising safety issues in an enjoyable social setting.

In the Event of a Bike Accident, Legal Support is Vital

State law requires bicyclists using the NC roads to follow the same basic rules of the road followed by motorists. When accidents happen, motor vehicle drivers who do not typically know local bike laws often attempt to blame injured bicyclists.

It is important for riders to seek legal assistance from bicycle accident attorneys who stay current on state and local bike laws and know how to protect their rights in these complex situations. Call us at 844-452-3688, or use our convenient online contact form to receive dedicated legal support after an accident.