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Cyclists and Drivers in Conflict at Virginia Beach

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The outskirts of Virginia Beach, VA, where the subdivisions of the city give way to the countryside, have become a front line in a battle that has left many injured. Pungo, in particular, has seen a spate of accidents involving cyclists and motorists, with some evidence indicating that cyclists are being intentionally targeted.

In an article describing how Virginia Beach is seeking to find a balance after all of the incidents, the Virginian-Pilot describes these incidents and other accidents involving cars and cyclists in Virginia Beach. During the week of June 13-17, 2011, the conflict appeared to escalate when thumbtacks were placed on Pungo-area bike route, leading to flat tires and some wrecks. "We have got to figure this thing out," Mayor Will Sessoms, who has met with cyclists, told the Pilot. "It’s not going to be perfect. There’s always going to be risk when you’re riding a bicycle."

Statistics suggest it’s a lot more dangerous being a cyclist in Virginia Beach than in surrounding cities. The 97 crashes between cyclists and other road users in Virginia Beach in 2010, compared with 56 in Norfolk and 14 in Chesapeake.

These accidents in Virginia Beach, include a serious crash in May when a 55-year-old cyclist was struck by a hit-and-run truck on Shore Drive. The cyclist was left with serious injuries that included nine broken ribs, and a broken pelvis and a broken clavicle. This truck driver faces a felony charge but drivers have also been charged with lesser offenses for acts of carelessness that have led to cyclists being hurt.

In January our Virginia Beach based personal injury attorneys reported on a female driver who failed to come to a full stop was charged with failure to yield the right of way. In Virginia Beach, it seems, failure to yield is commonplace when it comes to cyclists.

But some of the cyclists may be contributing to the problem in Virginia Beach. BikeBeat owner David Wilson told the Pilot, some cyclists in large groups behave differently than when they are riding alone.

"Group rides … are where the problem comes from most of the time. When a car rolls up behind, folks, wake up, move over for the car,” he said. Unfortunately, this is a battle that draws fierce opinions on both sides. The goal for everyone involved should be safety however, and the fact that a bicyclist is far more vulnerable than a person in a car should illicit a little common sense from everyone.

DM

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.