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Southern California Bicycle Law Blog

Key statistics about bicycle accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) often looks at bicycle accident statistics in an effort to figure out how to make the roads safer for cyclists. There will always be an inherent danger, but that does not mean steps can't be taken to protect cyclists. Many accidents are easily avoidable.

To get a better idea of the level of risk in the United States, here are a few key statistics from NHTSA:

  • The most fatal bicycle accidents happened from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. This is interesting because that is still during daylight hours, so a lack of visibility did not necessarily play a role. This time frame is when 20 percent of deadly accidents occurred.
  • By a wide margin, cycling in urban areas was more dangerous than rural areas. A full 71 percent of the deadly wrecks happened on urban streets.
  • Overall, cyclists make up a very small percentage of traffic fatalities. In 2016, for instance, they made up just 2.2 percent of the total.
  • Roughly one out of three accidents involved alcohol (29 percent). This counts use by both cyclists and drivers, and it only counts cases in which one person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was at the legal limit of .08 percent or greater.
  • Men face far higher risks. A full 84 percent of cyclists who died in these accidents were men, and just 16 percent were women.
  • Most injuries to men happened to those who ranged in age from 55 years old to 59 years old. This is interesting because it is often assumed that young people face higher risks.

Woman from California involved in deadly bicycle accident

A woman from California was behind the wheel in a deadly bicycle accident that happened in New Jersey.

The man who was killed in the crash had formerly served as the president for the Long Hill Board of Education. He was 54 years old. Reports indicate that the accident happened at 3:06 p.m.

Why you should consider a bicycle commute

Are you thinking about changing up your morning commute? Maybe you are simply sick of spending so much time trapped in the car. Maybe you are starting to look for ways to reduce your environmental impact. For these and other reasons, it may be time to consider a bicycle commute. Below are five reasons that biking to work has become so popular and may be worth considering:

1. It can cut down on your monthly bills. Experts estimate that it costs people around $9,000 per year just to own a car. What could you do with all of that money?

How should bicyclists handle road rage?

Los Angeles is one of the most precarious cities for bicyclists. With heavy traffic and a lot of twisty roadways, many bicyclists simply believe it is not safe to ride around Southern California. 

On top of environmental factors, bicyclists also need to watch out for other drivers getting road rage. Although motorists need to share the roadway with bicyclists, some people simply become angered at the slightest inconvenience a bicyclist may pose. When this occurs, there are some tips bicyclists should bear in mind.

Do bike lanes really help?

In order to make it safer and easier for cyclists to share the road with cars, many areas have implemented special bike lanes that cyclists can use. These are generally just thin lanes running along the right-hand side of the road.

Do they really help? What are the pros and cons?

Police seek hit-and-run driver after bicycle crash

Bicycles are a big part of California's transportation infrastructure. Bikes help adults stay fit and environmentally conscious, and the Bay Area is home to the nation's first bicycle highway system. The love of bikes often begins in youth, when bikes are smaller and the world seems bigger.

Many residential streets in Southern California feature children riding bikes around the block, and parents look out for the kids in their neighborhood. Community vigilance may help bring a driver to justice after two children were injured while riding their bikes in a San Jose intersection.

Pick the right type of helmet for your bike

You know that it is smart to wear a helmet when you ride your bike, but did you know that not all bike helmets are the same? It is critical that you understand the differences between the different styles and how to pick the right one for you.

For instance, many mountain bike helmets have visors on the top. This helps to block the sun and gives you a little more protection. Since there is no vehicle traffic on the trails, you can keep your head down and not worry about the way that the visor cuts off some of your forward vision. Additionally, mountain bikes have straight handlebars and you ride them sitting up a bit higher than road bikes, so the visor isn't in the way.

Safety tips to consider before your next bike ride

Whether you ride a bike as your main means of transportation or because you want to get in shape, one of your goals is to be safe on the road. You know that you face some serious hazards, and a lot of things are out of your control. If a driver turns in front of you when they don't see your bike, for instance, you could suffer serious injuries.

To keep yourself safe the next time you go out, use these cycling safety tips:

  • Put on a helmet. Even for short rides, a helmet is necessary. You can never predict an accident. Do not take chances. It may not stop you from getting hurt, but it can lower the odds of a serious head injury and death.
  • Do a bike safety check. Make sure your bike is ready to operate flawlessly so that a simple issue doesn't cause a crash. Check the brakes, gears, wheels, tires, pedals, lights and reflectors before each ride.
  • Look for bike lanes. Pick your route based on streets that offer you additional protection by separating you from cars. You do have a right to ride on the road with traffic, of course, but it is safer to use bike lanes when possible.
  • Put on high-visibility clothing. Pick colors like red, orange and yellow. Wear things that you know drivers can see easily, especially if you are biking at night, in the early morning or in the evening.

Common bicycle accident injuries

If you collide with a car or truck while bicycling, the results may be tragic. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more than 800 cyclists died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016, which is the most bicyclist fatalities in one year since 1991.

Even when bicycle collisions do not result in death, there may be serious injuries. Here are some of the most common cycling injuries: 

Group ride accident highlights challenges with rider liability

"There is safety in numbers." This common expression reflects the idea that being part of a group makes it more difficult to become the victim of an accident or attack. While this may be true when it comes to walking at night or exploring an unfamiliar place, it isn't always the case when it comes to cycling.

In fact, riding in a group can expose people to risks that they would otherwise avoid if they were riding solo. And should an accident happen, the question of liability can be difficult to answer.

This is the very issue at the center of a lawsuit one rider filed after he was seriously injured during the Spectrum Ride in the Bay Area.

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