San Francisco Bicycle Accident Attorney
Bicycle Accidents in California: The Stats Are Staggering
As we all know, there is a multitude of benefits that come with bicycling. Whether you’re seeking peak physical fitness or you’re compelled to use eco-friendly transportation, there is a lot to love about bikes. Unfortunately, however, bicyclists cannot escape the risk that accompanies their chosen mode of transport. Whether you’re in San Francisco or Santa Fe, there is always a chance that a distracted driver will not see you. But in California, the statistics are particularly stark. In 2017 alone, there were 124 pedal cyclists fatalities recorded. That means that — of the 3,602 traffic fatalities occurring during that year — a stunning 3.4 percent were cyclists. In Sacramento alone, this figure rises to 4.3 percent. And when you drill down and look at the statistics for San Francisco specifically, you’ll see that the numbers skyrocket, going up to 8 percent. Considering how much more prevalent automobiles are than bikes on city streets, it appears obvious that bike riders are at risk.
What Laws Are on the Books to Protect Cyclists?
Fortunately, you don’t have to talk to a bicycle accident attorney to understand what the laws are. Everything is straightforward and out in the open — although one wouldn’t necessarily know this based upon how some car drivers operate their vehicles. First, it’s important to realize that bicyclists can ride wherever they choose — provided that they cycle as fast as traffic.
If you talk to a bicycle accident lawyer, chances are that they will enlighten you about a cyclist’s legal ability to take a lane. Unfortunately, this law is one that is not often understood by those driving cars. It’s the reason why there are signs up encouraging motorists to “share the road”, but few choose to acknowledge it. Let’s say, for instance, that a road is very narrow and that there’s not enough room for a car and a bike to co-exist alongside one another. If traffic is moving quickly, a bicyclist may take over the lane for themselves. This means that they may ride in the middle of the road, and motorists must yield to them and not attempt to pass.
However, if there is a bicycle lane, cyclists are required to use it when they are not moving as fast as the traffic. Some exceptions apply to this rule, of course. When a cyclist is making a left turn or passing, for example, they can deviate from the bicycle lane to do so. When it comes to bicycle paths, any bicycle accident attorney will tell you that you cannot stop, park, or impede traffic in any way. Meanwhile, biking on toll roads and freeways is strictly forbidden. Those who are curious about riding on sidewalks will want to check with their local jurisdictions and cities. However, it is always advisable to yield to pedestrians and keep an eye out. Those riding motorized or electric bikes, meanwhile, will want to check the local laws to ensure that they comply.
How to Stop a Bicycle Accident Before It Ever Happens
As any good bicycle accident lawyer will tell you, it’s always best to avoid a bike accident in the first place. As many experts have pointed out, situational awareness is critical. In car driver parlance, this might be thought of as “defensive biking”. To stay safe, a biker must always assume that drivers are not able to see them or will make moves without taking the biker into account. Constant vigilance is key when it comes to safe biking. Then there’s the recommendation to outfit yourself conspicuously. When your vehicle is approximately one-seventh of the size of others on the road, it’s up to you to make yourself visible. Make things easy for motorists. Wear bright colors and use reflectors liberally; studies indicate that drivers see fluorescent orange and fluorescent yellow-green hues faster. Buy some biking clothes in these colors and wear them. Use lights during the daytime, but especially when it’s foggy or rainy outside. Remember that you wield some power when it comes to ensuring that others see you on the road. Use it whenever and wherever you can.
What to Do After a Bike Accident
When the unthinkable occurs, sometimes it can be difficult to think with a clear head. After all, few experiences in life are as terrifying as a bike crash. When adrenaline is coursing through your veins, it can be a challenge to take the right actions, but you must take a deep breath and conduct a quick assessment of your physical condition. You’ll want to immediately dial 911 or instruct a bystander to do so for you. You’ll want to take pictures of the car that hit you, making sure that the license plate is clear. Gather up any witnesses you can, and request that the car driver stays at the scene of the accident. Most importantly, contact a bicycle accident attorney who can look out for your best interests and go after what is rightfully yours in the wake of such a scary situation. In a world where bicyclists are often shoved off to the side — quite literally — it is your duty to be your own best advocate first. Documenting all of the particulars of the accident is key, and this will allow you to move on with your life the best you can. Empower yourself by seeking medical attention and having your body looked over. Remember that adrenaline will often play drinks on your mind and body. Even if you feel okay at the moment, you may have sustained a serious injury that hasn’t presented itself yet. In order to give yourself the best opportunity to recoup your losses, you will want to be thorough in the aftermath of your accident. A free consultation with a bike accident lawyer will help you to see what your options are — and assist you with moving forward.
- This article should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute legal advice, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship with anyone. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney in your community.