Bicycle culture is an integral part of California and an increasing trend in the Sacramento area. Bicycles are a popular mode of transportation for commuting either to work or school, or for recreation and exercise. Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers. Bicyclists must obey traffic signs and signals like every other vehicle.However, some drivers do not think bicyclists have any right to share the road. On September 16, 2014, a new California law took effect: drivers must give bicyclists three feet as they pass them on the road, regardless of whether or not there is a bike lane. Many vehicle drivers use the bicycle lane as though it were meant for cars and do not obey the safe passing distance.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 726 bicyclist deaths and 50,000 bicyclist injuries in 2014 throughout the nation. Pedalcyclist fatalities were the second highest in California. During this time, California accounted for 128 deaths of bicyclists in collisions with motor vehicles. Drivers and cyclists should obey traffic laws and share the road.
Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) Spotlight on Highway Safety: Bicyclist Safety
“The goal is to reduce the time or distance in which bicyclists are exposed to risk via marked bike lanes, bicycle boulevards, separate bicycle traffic signals, and other techniques. These treatments can be supplemented by methods to slow motor vehicles down, and roadway lighting and warning signs to increase awareness of the presence of bicyclists. Bikers (and walkers) are frequently classified as “vulnerable road users”… Yet because of differences in mass and the lack of a protective structure, when bicycles collide with motor vehicles, the risk is asymmetric. Bicyclists are susceptible to serious injury; motorists are not (Ragland, 2012).”
Bicyclists have an elevated risk of serious injury when encountering motor vehicles. There is essentially no protection from a vehicle weighing several thousand pounds. Bicyclists can suffer serious injury including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, paralysis, amputations, fractures, organ damage, scarring, lacerations, and death.
Driver negligence often results in cyclist injuries and wrongful deaths. Driver behaviors or acts constituting negligence include:
Nearly a third of all injuries are caused when bicyclists are struck by cars. Cyclists may have legal recourse if they sustained an injury as a result of driver carelessness. You can potentially file a claim against the driver to recover damages when a vehicle hits your bike or forces you off the road and you’re injured, if you or a witness can identify the driver. Uninsured motorist policy may pay for your damages if there is no identifiable driver (i.e. hit and run).
According to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, the six most frequent sources of bicyclist injury are:
You have the right to pursue a claim to recover compensatory damages if you were injured. Compensation includes lost earnings, medical expenses and rehabilitation costs, and special damages such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, emotional distress, and so forth.
Contact a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer
The experienced personal injury lawyers of Kershaw, Cook & Talley serve thousands of individuals with serious injuries. Healing is your main priority- handling your case is ours.
If you were injured in a bicycle accident, caused by someone else’s negligence, call Kershaw, Cook & Talley for a free case consultation at 888-997-5170.
Bill Kershaw is an avid cyclist and cycling enthusiast, and is a proud proponent of various organizations in California that support bicycle advocacy and the rights of all cyclists in California.