As a pro-bicycle attorney and advocate, and a lifetime Mill Valley resident and cyclist, I am sad to report a serious bicycle vs. truck accident in Mill Valley occurring last Thursday at or around 5:00 p.m. at the Sycamore Ave. and Camino Alto intersection, one of Mill Valley’s busiest.
I am also concerned about how this bicycle accident happened, to say the least! This intersection is right across from the Mill Valley Middle School, where over 900 students attend, many of whom ride their bicycles to and from school. I was one of these student cyclist who rode to MVMS many years ago, so I felt particular shock when I learned of this truck and bicycle collision at this very corner.
Madeline Rose, the 26-year-old cyclist, suffered very serious personal injuries in this truck vs. bike accident. My partner George Choulos and I wish Ms. Rose a speedy and complete recovery back to good health. We, and other Mill Valley bicyclists are praying for your recovery.
Ms. Rose was run over by a Maggiora & Ghilotti dump truck as it was making a right turn from Sycamore Ave. onto Camino Alto just as she was passing the truck to either turn right onto Camino Alto or go straight onto Sycamore.
I’m a long time member of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition whom I support wholeheartedly, and also a Mill Valley Bicycle Accident Attorney who fights every day to make motorists Share The Road. I know this particular intersection from years riding it and driving it, which helps me to understand the nature of the accident.
Mill Valley is a haven for safe cycling. It is highly unlikely that anyone could drive through Mill Valley without seeing at least a few cyclists, old and young. I rode to school and home to my friends’ homes on my trusty bike for years, yet these days I find it hard to let my daughter ride without me. Traffic in Mill Valley has changed so much, with greater congestion and greater distraction, and in sum, more danger for bicyclists. Am I paranoid or protective? After so many years as a bicycle attorney, I know of so many ways that motorists fail to drive safely, and fail to allow cyclists their right to share the road.
The following California Vehicle Code Sections may be applicable to this bicycle crash. Issues likely to arise are whether the trucker was at a stop and whether he failed to keep a proper lookout for bicycle traffic to his right before he started moving, whether the trucker made a right turn signal and kept a proper lookout to determine whether he could turn with proper safety, and if Ms. Rose could see the signal as she approached the intersection:
- 22106. No person shall start a vehicle stopped, standing, or parked on a highway, nor shall any person back a vehicle on a highway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.
- 22107. No person shall turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after the giving of an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.
- 22108. Any signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given continuously during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.
Even though the Mill Valley Police say they have not determined yet who is at fault, as a bicycle accident attorney, odds are that they will find at least some or most of the fault lies with Ms. Rose. I am often frustrated by police reports which consider only a fraction of the facts and often disregard the law giving bicyclists the right to share the road with motorists. The details of each case are critically important to determine the final word on fault. And ultimately fault is determined by a judge or jury, not the police.
Why does fault matter? I sincerely believe that accountability matters. If we have accountability, we can change the behavior of drivers on the road to make the roads safer for all of us.
My motto is that “if it is predictable, it is preventable.” Collisions between bicycles and motorists are almost always predictable to some extent, and therefore usually preventable with more care. Having said that, if a collision is predictable and therefore preventable, failure to keep a proper lookout is negligence.
Right turns in a big truck are certainly more challenging than in a small automobile. However, commercial truckers are professional drivers who are trained to deal with challenges on our public roads, small town streets included. Truck drivers need to be on guard because they can cause so much damage so quickly.
It is my hope that Ms. Rose or her family know to call an experienced bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible to make the right party accountable. Our hearts go out to Ms. Rose who is in stable condition although in the ICU at Marin General.
For comments or to discuss this bicycle accident or other similar bicycle accidents, please feel free to contact me.
“If it’s predictable, it’s preventable.”