The Golden State is known for sun, sand and surf, and as a haven for bicyclists. Despite this reputation, California has a significant amount of bicyclist fatalities every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while only 1% of all trips taken in the U.S. are by bicycle, bicyclists face a higher risk of crash-related injury and deaths than occupants of motor vehicles do. Bicycle accidents can result in catastrophic and life-threatening injuries.
If you were seriously injured, or a loved one was killed, in a bicycle accident caused by someone else’s negligence, call our Sacramento bicycle accident attorneys to learn about your legal rights.
Common Injuries From Bicycle Accidents Include:
Usually, these injuries require emergency treatment and extensive trauma care including surgeries and diagnostic procedures such as CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents Include:
Left Hand Turn is a common cause of auto-on-bicycle collisions: the driver makes a left turn in front of the oncoming bicyclist resulting in an accident. California law states that drivers making a left turn must yield to any vehicles, including bicycles, coming in the opposite direction and not to proceed until it is safe.
“No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so” (CVC section 22517). Unfortunately, many drivers and passengers do not pay attention and open their door into an approaching bicyclist, causing serious and possibly fatal injuries.
Motorists should proceed with caution when reversing from a driveway or side street onto a roadway. Many times the driver does not look before backing up and does not notice a bicyclist in their path.
Drivers must give bicyclists three feet of clearance (minimum) as they pass them on the road, regardless of whether or not there is a bike lane, per California law. However, impatient motorists routinely pass bicyclists without enough distance causing the bicyclist to run off the road or a collision. A rule of thumb for safe distance, “if you don’t know for sure then you are probably too close”.
Oftentimes, motorists fail to notice bicyclists when attempting to merge or change lanes. Check your rear and side view mirrors!
Crosswalks and intersections are common places for car-on-bicycle collisions. Bicyclists have a duty to keep themselves out of harm’s way and obey traffic regulations. However, they should also beware of negligent motorists.
Bicyclists sustain injuries from construction debris, potholes, and other unsafe roadway conditions.
How can bicycle-related injuries and deaths be prevented?
Effective Interventions by the CDC:
Bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head and brain injuries in the event of a crash.5 All bicyclists, regardless of age, can help protect themselves by wearing properly fitted bicycle helmets every time they ride.
Bicycle helmet laws for children
These laws are effective for increasing helmet use and reducing crash-related injuries and deaths among children.
Bicycle helmet laws for adults
These laws increase helmet use among adults.
Promising Interventions by the CDC:
Interventions that have shown promise for reducing injuries and fatalities to bicyclists include the following:
Active lighting and rider visibility
Roadway engineering measures
Information about roadway engineering measures, like bike lanes, that can improve safety for bicyclists is available from The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.