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Southern California Bicycle Law Blog

Drivers think it's 'annoying' to pass bikes safely

Drivers are supposed to share the road with cyclists, and one of the most crucial issues is when a car has to pass a bike. At a time like that, drivers must give cyclists enough of a buffer zone to prevent an accident.

How big should that zone be? A law passed half of a decade ago says that drivers should keep three feet between their cars and the bikes. It's not an incredible amount, but it helps to prevent accidents and keep cyclists safe. It seems like a small thing to do to save lives.

Dangerous behaviors drivers engage in around bikes

Cyclists face a lot of risks on the road, especially when drivers do not respect them and take intentional actions to cause accidents or put them at risk. Drivers know that they're not very likely to get injured in a car vs. bike crash, and it makes them act aggressively and dangerously.

Of course, cyclists have a very high chance of suffering serious injuries or even getting killed in these collisions. To help you understand how wrecks happen, so that you may be able to avoid them, here are a few dangerous behaviors that drivers engage in from time to time:

  • Cutting off the cyclist, either because they do not see the bike or because they are in a hurry.
  • Brake-checking a bike, perhaps because they are frustrated with the bike's slower speed when compared to the cars around it.
  • Swerving toward a cyclist, which is often meant as a retaliation for some imagined slight -- even when the cyclist did nothing wrong.
  • Executing the "punishment pass" and driving far too close to the bike, which may also be a retaliation designed to scare the cyclist.
  • Engaging in road rage with the cyclist and driving dangerously and aggressively near them.

After National Bike to Work Week, consider accident statistics

National Bike to Work Week ran from May 13 to May 17. While the goal of the week was to get people to consider spending more time on their bikes, promoting cycling and reducing the number of cars on the road in California, it also served another purpose: drawing attention to just how dangerous biking can be.

In 2017, coroner's records show that 16 people lost their lives while cycling in Orange County alone. Last year, the number was at least 14. It seems like more than a dozen people get into these deadly accidents year in and year out.

As traffic fatalities drop, bikes get more dangerous

When you hear that traffic fatalities in the United States have declined, you probably assume that cyclist fatalities have gone down as well. It's all related and general safety on the road extends to everyone, right?

That makes sense, but the statistical trends actually show that the two can move in opposite directions.

Bicycle-pedestrian accidents: A cautionary tale

Any bicycle rider can become annoyed discussing the subject of car-bicycle collisions. Like motor vehicle operators, bicycle riders have their share of lawbreakers; however, because of the disparity in numbers, bicycle-pedestrian accidents are relatively uncommon. Most cyclists ride defensively, constantly watching for obstacles in their path. Bicycle riders are particularly cautious when riding near pedestrians since, with no warning, people on foot randomly veer in any direction. Adults are bad enough, but children are even more likely to run directly into the path of a bicycle.

When a bicycle rider does injure a pedestrian, the media abundantly responds. A bicyclist-pedestrian crash is a novelty—and an opportunity for news sources to inflame auto drivers' bias toward the "superior moral attitude" of cyclists. 

Drivers' attitudes put cyclists in danger

Why do cyclists face such grave dangers on the roads of Southern California? As many of them will probably attest, a big part of the issue is just the way that drivers feel about cyclists.

After all, people usually tend toward a group mentality. Drivers are one group. Cyclists are another. They may see each other in a negative light on the whole, which makes them take risks they would otherwise refrain from.

11-year-old suffers fatal injuries in freak bicycle accident

Bicycle accident injuries can be incredibly serious, even in an accident that does not appear all that significant from the outside. You do not have to get hit by a car that runs a red light, for instance, to suffer substantial injuries or even pass away.

A recent accident in California underscored this possibility. The tragic accident took the life of an 11-year-old boy.

Teen racing cyclist dies in U-turn accident with car

Tragedy has struck Team California, as a 19-year-old cyclist who raced with the team recently died in an accident during a training run.

The young man was planning on participating in an upcoming race, the Redlands Bicycle Classic. He was training for it on the course, riding behind a Honda sedan. The California Highway Patrol says that the car's driver then attempted a U-turn, cutting him off and running into him. Speeds are unclear at this time.

Most dangerous streets in Los Angeles for bicyclists

Los Angeles frequently ranks among the worst cities for bicyclists to commute. The city is bad enough with cars, as you can tell any time you try to drive through the 405. However, bicyclists have less protection than motorists, and they are more susceptible to serious injury when there is an accident. 

In 2014, LA Weekly reported on the most dangerous streets for bicyclists in Los Angeles. Although officials have made efforts to make city streets safer for bicyclists, numerous accidents still happen every year on certain intersections. It is vital for bicyclists to be safe when they ride down these streets, but motorists also have a responsibility to ensure there is enough room for everyone to reach their destinations safely. 

Two cyclists killed in accidents with cars

Two cyclists in California's Santa Clarita Valley lost their lives in quick succession when they were both hit by cars in recent days.

One of the crashes happened on Friday, March 1. A woman was riding her bike when a car hit her. She was 61 years old when she passed away. The 50-year-old woman who was driving that vehicle did not get hurt.

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