Bicycle Safety in LA Gets Average Marks

May 04, 2023

According to an advocacy group, Los Angeles is the 313th-safest city for cyclists in the United States. That’s not much to write home about, but at least there are 837 cities that ranked worse. So, I love LA.

To determine the rating, the group looked not only at the number of reported wrecks, but also the number of unreported wrecks. Such accidents are far too common in Los Angeles. For example, when a 49-year-old Belizean man was killed in a Carson bicycle crash, the story only came to light when his mother donated bike gear belonging to the 20-year U.S. Army vet to the country’s cycling federation. Many other stories contain few details about the crash and there’s no follow-up on the victim’s condition (i.e. did s/he live or die).

In the City of the Angeles, officials have laid out a plan to reduce fatal bicycle accidents, but the details haven’t been worked out and the funding isn’t fully available.

What Causes Bicycle Wrecks?

It never rains in California, or so says the song. So, pretty much every day is a good day to bicycle around the streets of SoCal. With all the bicycles on the streets and with all this clear weather, drivers have no excuse for not maintaining a proper lookout for bicycles. Yet driver inattention causes a significant number of these wrecks.

Inattention is a form of aggressive driving. Other forms include speeding and ignoring a traffic control device.

Driver impairment causes many bicycle accidents as well. Some common forms of summertime impairment include:

  • Alcohol: Summer holidays are bottoms-up holidays for many people. Usually, law enforcement is out in force on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and other holidays, attempting to keep these drivers off the street. But far too many drunk drivers slip through the cracks.
  • Drowsiness: Long days usually encourage people to drive later into the night. Many people think that if it’s only been dark for a couple of hours, they should be able to keep going. Yet driving after just eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level.
  • Medical Condition: Summer colds and mild COVID-19 are rough, and not just because of the adverse symptoms they cause. Cold and flu symptoms decrease driving ability by as much as 50 percent. On a related note, people with certain chronic medical conditions, like diabetes, could suddenly and unexpectedly lose consciousness while they’re behind the wheel.

A combination of driver impairment and aggressive driving cause about 98 percent of the bicycle collisions in California.

Liability Issues

Aggressive driving and driver impairment are also negligent, at least in most cases. Basically, negligence is a lack of care. Speeding 5mph over the limit probably isn’t excessive enough to cause a crash or make a wreck more intense. Speeding 25mph over the limit is much different in both areas.

Negligence is unintentional. Very few people intend to rev their engines, smash into people, and hurt them. Even though negligence is a mistake, a Los Angeles personal injury attorney can still obtain compensation for injuries. We all make mistakes, and we must all accept the consequences of those mistakes. In this context, these consequences include paying compensation for damages.

Frequently, a third party is financially responsible for bicycle crash injuries. For example, if a delivery driver sideswipes a bicyclist, the company must pay compensation, under the respondeat superior rule.

Bicycle Safety Measures: Friend or Foe?

To make the streets safer for bicyclists, cities often separate bicycle lanes from regular traffic lanes with large, concrete pillars. Because they reduce visibility, these pillars might do more harm than good.

Assume a pillar is between bicyclist Mike and motorist Ike when they are both waiting at a red light. When the light turns green, Mike decides to make a right turn. So, he looks to the left as he turns to the right, never seeing Mike. If the pillar wasn’t there, Mike would’ve been easier to see.

Bicycle helmets, which are mandatory in California for riders under 18, are another example. If 17-year-old Mike was wearing a helmet, Ike might subconsciously think iIke could survive a collision. Therefore, Ike would take more chances. Additionally, the helmet gives Mike a false sense of security. Thin bicycle helmets offer almost no protection in a roadway collision.

Vehicle collisions usually cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.

Credit: Photo by Luca Campioni on Unsplash

Sharona Hakim

Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.

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