Bicycle accidents are at an all-time high in California due to the growth in popularity of cycling and an increase in the number of cars, trucks, and SUVs on the road. California drivers are required to exercise reasonable caution around bicyclists, but unfortunately, many drivers engage in distracted or aggressive driving behaviors and don’t focus their attention on safe driving. This leads to many cases of bicyclists being injured, often seriously.
The Popularity of Cycling in the Los Angeles Area
Thanks to beautiful weather and an increasing commitment to healthy, low-cost, zero-emission transportation, cycling is popular throughout Los Angeles and the surrounding communities. While recreational bicyclists often ride on designated bike paths, other riders—including commuters and bicycle messengers—are forced to share roads with vehicles. This is inherently dangerous given the vulnerability of bicyclists compared with the enclosed protection of a vehicle.
New innovations, however, have made it an even more dangerous world for L.A. cyclists. In recent years, we have seen an increase in:
- Bike-sharing. With Metro Bike Share, anyone can swipe a card and grab a bike. While convenient, it means more bikes on the road and potentially more inexperienced cyclists, including tourists, who don’t know the rules of the road. If there is an accident, liability usually lies with whoever caused the accident, not the bike-sharing company. However, a bicycle accident attorney can help you figure out who pays when you are hurt.
- Electric bikes. E-bikes are becoming very popular in L.A. There are several classes of e-bikes, and each type is subject to specific regulations. Before heading out on one—whether you own it or are renting it for the day—you should understand the rules. If you are hit by a car while riding an electric bike, you can be sure the driver will blame you, and you will need an experienced attorney to protect your right to recover damages.
Whether cycling for transportation, fitness, or pleasure, all cyclists deserve the same respect on the road that drivers give to other vehicles.
Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Greater Los Angeles
Even when a cyclist is obeying traffic laws, riding in a designated bike lane, and wearing a helmet, they are at risk of being hit by a motor vehicle and suffering a serious injury. In L.A., cyclists are often injured and killed because of the following kinds of driver negligence:
- Distracted driving. Even a glance at a cell phone, GPS display, or passenger could cause a driver to swerve into a bike lane or fail to see a turning cyclist. However, drivers are often distracted for more than just a few seconds, creating even more hazardous situations for cyclists.
- Not checking blind spots. Large SUVs, pickup trucks, semi-trucks, and even cars have blind spots. Many drivers are not vigilant about checking carefully for bicycles before they change lanes, make turns, or approach intersections—and they cause serious bicycle accident injuries as a result.
- Failure to yield. Some drivers simply refuse to yield the right of way to a cyclist because they think they can beat the bike at an intersection. Some drivers do not understand that cyclists have the same rights as vehicles in many situations.
- Speed. Most cyclists cannot keep up with the speed of traffic, and cars must allow a cushion when passing them. When drivers are speeding, the dangers increase dramatically.
- Street parking. With parking at a premium in L.A., drivers often fail to watch for bikes as they parallel park. In addition, “dooring” accidents can occur when a driver opens his/her door into the path of a cyclist. The cyclist can be thrown over the door and into traffic.
- Dangerous Conditions on Public or Private roadways. Roadways and sidewalks in Los Angeles are riddled with potholes, uneven pavement, and wear and tear from traffic cause dangerous conditions on public and private roadways, which pose a serious danger to bicyclists. Los Angeles and other cities fail to properly inspect and maintain their roadways which can be a contributing factor to a bicycle crash. There are strict time limitations to bring claims in California against government entities. Legal claims against government entities, like the city of Los Angeles, must be filed within 6 months of the incident, which is why if you feel that a dangerous condition on a public roadway in California caused your bicycle crash, you must contact an experienced personal injury lawyer right away.
An experienced bicycle accident attorney will investigate your accident to determine how it happened and hold the negligent driver or government entity accountable for your injuries.
Bicycle Accidents Can Result in Catastrophic Injuries
As a cyclist, you have little protection when you go up against a car, truck, or other motor vehicle, so the resulting injuries can be catastrophic. Even if you are wearing a helmet, you can suffer serious injuries in a bike crash, including the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Bone fractures
- Road rash
- Spinal cord injuries
- Facial and dental injuries
These injuries could result in costly medical treatment, long-term disability, lost wages from an inability to work, and even death. When a driver’s negligence caused your bicycle crash, they should be held accountable for the damage they have caused.