Side-Swipe Cycling Accidents: A Serious Danger on NYC’s Streets

Here’s what you need to know about one of the most common dangers to local cyclists.

On any given day, New York City streets are teeming with cyclists. Recreational riders, commuters and bike messengers share the road with vast numbers of cars, trucks and motorcycles.

While this urban tableau can be found in any large city, the sheer traffic density of NYC makes it particularly dangerous for local cyclists, who are much more exposed to the elements.

There are, in fact, a variety of common accident types of which local cyclists should be cognizant. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at one of them: The “side-swipe cycling accident.”

Understanding the Risks of Side-Swipe Collisions

To stay safe on NYC streets, it’s essential to maintain strong situational awareness. For example, experienced cyclists know to pay close attention to parked cars along their shoulder, as a single door opened unexpectedly can launch the cyclist into the air.

Side-swiping is another common risk that must be accounted for, as they can have devastating effects, even at relatively low speeds. Side-swipe accidents occur when a vehicle traveling in the same direction as the cyclist makes a turn into the cyclist. Such accidents often occur because a car driver was inattentive, or did not realize the cyclist was traveling in the so-called “blind spot.”

One car or truck side-swiping another may only leave mild-to-moderate damage. However, swap one of those vehicles for a bike and you have a serious risk of grave injury or death. The massive size and force disparity between a bike and a car can lead to profound injuries. Even if the contact was glancing, it may be enough to propel the cyclist into the air and onto the street below — at serious risk of being run over by oncoming traffic. 

Why Do Side-Swipe Collisions Occur with Frequency?

Here are some of the most common reasons why cyclists are injured by side-swipes:

  • Distracted driving. According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, 77 cyclists were killed (and thousands injured) from distracted driving in 2018. Texting, talking to passengers, reaching for objects — these are all common examples of distracted driving.
  • Operating large or wide vehicles without extra caution. Because of the size of such vehicles, they pose added risk for side-swipe collisions.
  • Making turns when attached to a trailer. Trailers require a wide berth during turns, and can easily impact cyclists if the driver is not paying vigilant attention.

How Should I React After a Collision?

If you’ve been injured by a side-swipe cycling collision, it’s important to speak to an experienced attorney. The right attorney can help ensure that you are treated fairly, and that you are justly compensated for any injuries and losses you’ve suffered.

At The Frankel Law Firm, we have more than four decades of experience fighting for the rights of accident victims. Contact us today for a free consultation at (212) 888-5100 or at


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