Napa doctors have expressed concern about the rise in Napa County bicycle accident injuries and deaths. As a Bay Area cyclist, I love to ride in the Wine Country. You can find great roads, great hills if you want them and great long level rides if that suits you.
But, like many rural areas, Napa has its share of danger for bicycle riders as well. With the exponential increase in popularity of the Wine Country comes more traffic congestion. And let’s not forget the tourists who frequent the Wine Country to sample the fantastic wines available. They may not all be totally sober when they climb back into their cars, and they are often distracted looking for wineries to visit.
Oftentimes narrow roads lead to increasingly trendy locations, and the combination of all of these factors can lead to increased numbers of bicycle injuries and deaths. Scenic roads such as Silverado Trail can be dangerous for bicycle riders, particularly when speeding cars share the road.
Local Napa doctor, Dr. Archimedes Ramirez, a University of California, San Francisco neurological surgeon assigned to provide full-time care at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa has expressed his worry about the many bicycle accident and injuries he’s encountered.
Dr. Archimedes and one of his collegues state,
“It has come to our attention, as we have cared for many of these patients, that over the recent months there have been multiple deaths and significant morbidities that have occurred in the Napa Valley related to bicycle accidents.”
As a bicycle enthusiast and lover of local Bay Area weekend getaways, I too am concerned about the safety of bicyclists in my back yard. The Bicycle Accident Attorney in me agrees with the Napa doctors, as I am equally concerned by the recklessness exhibited by many drivers, and also occasional carelessness by bicyclists. Bicycle riders who ride like distracted tourists themselves pose a great danger to their own personal safety.
At any given time, my partner George Choulos and I are handling bicycle injury cases arising from bicycle accidents in both Napa and Sonoma County. George just handled a case against the City of Napa for a dangerous pavement defect which caused a bicyclist to fall and to suffer very serious injuries. Anyone who has ridden a bicycle on Highway 29 knows about the railroad tracks and how they cross right through the bike path. Both the Wine Train and the State argue over which entity should be responsible to improve the safety of the crossing for bicycles.
They both know that bike accidents and serious injuries are happening, but neither wants to pay to fix the dangerous road. While the City of Napa, the County, the State, and other public entities benefit from the popularity of Napa County as a bicycle friendly destination, they also need to improve their infrastructure to keep dangerous roadways from hurting bicyclists. And bicyclists are far more vulnerable to pavement problems than motorists.
Motorists are not the only danger to bicyclists. Right now, I am personally working on a bicycle vs. bicycle crash which occurred in Sonoma County, where the other cyclist came speeding down a hill on the wrong side of the road and crashed into my client who was riding slowly up the hill on his own side of the road.
I’m appalled at reports of motorcyclists dodging in and out of lanes in Napa, taking lives in their hands as they speed by bicyclists. I love to ride both motorcycles and bicycles, and with each comes great responsibility. This brings me to the subject of helmets. With all of these wine-influenced drivers, dangerous roads, and even errant bicyclists, why wouldn’t a bicycle rider wear a helmet?
I challenge both Napa and Sonoma residents and weekend visitors alike to make a stand for safety and to remember to Share the Road with bicyclists. And I challenge the public entities who maintain our roads to make them safe for all traffic, including bicyclists.
Remember my motto… if it’s predictable, it’s preventable.