Is bicycle riding inherently dangerous? I don’t think so. However, whenever there is a crash between a car or truck or bus and a bicycle rider, the cyclist is most likely to suffer grievous personal injuries. The San Francisco Bay Area and all of Northern California are great places to ride a mountain bike, a road bike or a cruiser or a hybrid bicycle, but the streets are too often congested with motor vehicles, whose drivers are distracted or who don’t know how to keep a proper lookout or how to properly share the road with bicyclists. The vast majority of bicycle accidents are caused by driver negligence and most often result in serious injuries and even fatalities.
Is cycling dangerous? Because bicycle riders are not protected by a steel cage like motorists, any bicycle accident with a car truck or bus, with any substantial impact, is going to result in personal injuries or death. As a result of drivers violating the rights of bicycle riders, 338 cyclists were killed in California in 2012 alone. California had the highest number of cyclists killed anywhere in the US. Cyclists accounted for 2% of the total traffic deaths and another 2% of all injuries caused by crashes in 2014.
The San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California could be much more bicycle friendly, and to be fair, the City of San Francisco is trying. Many areas in Northern California just don’t have the proper facilities for cycling or adequate infrastructure. The streets are mostly dominated by motor vehicle drivers who seem to be increasingly distracted, making many motorists extremely dangerous to bicyclists.
As if careless drivers and negligent drivers didn’t make cycling dangerous enough in the San Francisco Bay Area, we also have many drivers who are simply not willing to allow bicyclists their rights under the California Vehicle Code. Under several provisions of the California Vehicle Code, bicycle riders have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. Yes, bicycles are vehicles in the eyes of the law, and motorists are required to share the road with bicyclists. This means that motorists must pass bicycle riders safely, allowing three feet of space between the vehicle and the bicycle rider, even if the lane is narrow and the car, SUV, truck, or bus is wide. The law says that if there is not adequate room to pass a bicycle rider, the motorist must wait to pass. Many bicycle accidents and injuries are caused by driver impatience and the failure to properly share the road with bicycles.
This is the term used to describe when a stopped motorist or their passenger fails to properly check for a passing bicycle rider before opening the door of a vehicle into the path of the bicyclist. If someone opens a car or truck door into the path of a bicyclist, this is a violation of the bicycle rider’s right of way and is prohibited by California law. If a bicycle rider suffers personal injuries as a result of being doored, the driver of the car or truck or is liable for the bicycle rider’s injuries and damages caused by this violation.
When a motorist changes lanes into the path of an oncoming bicycle rider, without properly keeping a lookout and allowing the bicyclist the right of way, this is negligence and the motorist is liable to the bicycle rider for damages caused by this unsafe turning maneuver. One of the most common unsafe turns is the right-hand turn by a car or truck, sometimes called the “right hook” case. Often, after a motorist passes a bicycle rider, the motorist will still suddenly slow and take a right turn directly in the path of the bicycle rider, even though the motorist should know to expect the bicycle rider to be there. This dangerous right turn causes serious personal injuries to cyclists and sometimes fatal injuries.
When a car, truck or bus makes a left turn into the path of a bicycle rider, without properly checking for oncoming traffic, without seeing the approaching bicycle rider or even just miscalculating the speed or distance away of the oncoming bicycle rider, that driver has violated the right of way of the bicycle rider and is liable for any injuries and damages caused by the negligent violation of the bicycle rider’s rights. The unsafe left turn case is the most common of all of our bicycle accident cases. While bicycle riders are most often concerned about being hit from behind by a passing motorist, it is the unsafe left turn by cars, autos, buses, and trucks that cause the most bicycle rider injuries.
We discussed this very unsafe practice above, and failure to share the road with bicycles as well as unsafe passing within less than three feet is a prominent cause of bicycle accidents and injuries.
Any cyclist who is injured as a result of the wrongful conduct of others, whether this conduct is careless, negligent, or reckless, is entitled to compensation – as long as the driver is at fault. The amount due for compensation after a bicycle accident injury is requires exploring the specific facts of each individual case. Some common legal claims made by bicycle accident attorneys on behalf of their clients are financial payment for damages for past and future medical bills, for past and future income loss, and for past and future pain and suffering damages.
If you are seriously injured in a bicycle accident in San Francisco, do not hesitate to get in touch with Choulos Choulos, & Wyle. We understand the daily risks you go through to reach your destination by bicycle. Our team of trained and experienced bicycle accident attorneys serves clients all over the San Francisco, California area and we are happy to answer questions for you in your free initial consultation.