If you look at a busy street today, you will find a road filled with cars and trucks. You’ll hear blaring horns and roaring engines, with sound bouncing off of storefronts and reverberating down the street.
Along the side of the road, you may see pedestrians and bicyclists using mechanical modes of transportation to move around compared to the cars of our era. While the legs are a technology millions of years in the making, the bicycle is barely 200 years old, celebrating its 200th birthday in 2017.
Technological advancement has been nothing if not meteoric, turning these mechanical marvels into simple tech in a few short years. But you may be surprised that many of the issues people had with the automobile were also levied at the bicycle as well.
The rapid pace of innovation has been a fixture of modern life, but such quick growth leads to problems, and the bicycle is not immune.
In this blog, we’ll discuss how modernization has impacted the bicycle and infrastructure at large as well as what you need to know about bicycle accidents and safety.
Bicycles: A Modern Marvel In The 1800s
As we mentioned earlier, the bicycle was quite the marvel when it was created in the early 1800s. You may think the bicycle was made to be a fun mode of transportation, but it was actually created out of necessity.
In 1815, a massive eruption of Mount Tambora, Indonesia caused a volcanic winter, which led to crops failing, causing people and animals to starve to death. Many of these animals were horses, which were used for transportation and other uses.
Seeing the issue, Baron Karl von Drais of Baden, Germany decided to do something about the problem. In 1817, he designed a precursor to the modern bicycle called a Laufmaschine, or “running machine.” His invention inspired other manufacturers to make their own, and it became a fantastic, albeit prohibitively expensive, tool.
These early contraptions did not have pedals, which wouldn’t be added until the 1860s. Nonetheless, the invention of the bicycle came with some problems. Many cities banned or regulated the use of these inventions because they would startle people on the sidewalks.
By the 1820s and 30s, the “hobby horse” had faded from existence. By nature of how they worked, they simply weren’t very practical. Roads were rough, the devices were expensive, and laws restricted their use to sidewalks.
The 1860s would see bicycles begin to modernize, with additions like centered steering wheels, a gear system, and pedals becoming more and more prevalent. This, coupled with slightly lowering prices, led to the bicycle becoming more practical and useful.
By the late 1890s, bikes were made of lightweight metal. This, along with other improvements, led to a boom in sales. By the year 1900, there were an estimated 1 million bikes in the world.
Bikes And Cars: Disruptions To Transportation
As stated earlier, bikes were disruptive to their environment, sometimes literally pushing people aside as they walked. But less than a century later, the car would send reverberations through major cities around the globe.
Cities that hadn’t adjusted to the use of bicycles were then adapting to the use of cars, helped out by lobbying from the wealthy and automobile companies alike. Since cars take up so much space, large roads had to be built simply to accommodate these new transportation machines. Pedestrians were slowly pushed to the side, and bicycles followed suit.
Nowadays, nearly every major city is well-optimized for use of the automobile, but not much else. While some cities are attempting to improve their pedestrian and bike infrastructure, it’s clear that cars now control the way that we move and interact in America.
A Quick Look at Bicycling Accident
As a result of the way we move, cycling is often rather dangerous for people. In 2018, 854 bicyclists were tragically killed in crashes with motor vehicles, many of them in cities. With how frantic city traffic can be, people are often overloaded with stimuli and may not see a bicyclist near them.
In addition to these fatality numbers, 11,000 people are injured by vehicles every year. This is a problem that continues to plague cyclists and one that leads to thousands spent on property repair and medical bills.
Part of that can be chalked up to people not paying attention. Cars are much faster than they used to be, yet our technology also allows us to be distracted by texts, music, and so much more while we drive. While hitting another car while distracted could easily be fatal, the chances are much higher when a cyclist is hit.
Another piece of this puzzle could be directly attributed to the lack of considerate urban planning. The invention of the affordable car completely changed the ways cities functioned, with the consideration of horses and bicycles being pushed far to the side.
These factors among others contribute to the epidemic of automobile-cyclist accidents on the road today.
Keeping Yourself Safe On The Road
Cities have become more hazardous than they are accommodating to cyclists, which is a problem for motorists and cyclists alike. So how do you minimize your risk of being involved in an accident?
No Distractions: Whether you are a cyclist or a driver, you need to remove any distractions while you drive. Phones, tablets, and other devices should be kept in your pocket until you reach your destination. Thousands of accidents every year are caused by distractions.
Get Involved: Think your city doesn’t support cyclists? Let your voice be heard! Contact government officials in your area to discuss creating cyclist-friendly infrastructure.
Use All Appropriate Safety Equipment: It is important to use the safety tools available to you. If cycling, consider a helmet, gloves, protective cycling clothing, and other equipment. For driving a motor vehicle, ensure airbags are working properly and that seatbelts are secure.
Choose The Law Office of W. Shane Jennings For Your Case
Unfortunately, even with the best of intentions, accidents happen. Call the Hobbs office of W. Shane Jennings because we’ve aided enough clients in receiving favorable results from their accident cases in Las Cruces that we opened the Hobbs office.
If you need a team to help you navigate your cycling accident in Hobbs, New Mexico, then call our office to learn more!