You ride your bicycle for the health of it. Or to do your part for the environment. Maybe you ride just for fun. The weather in Southern California is great for cyclists. With new bike lanes being added as part of many urban infrastructure updates, and the wide varieties of rural options for rolling along, it’s easy to feel like a kid again.
But bicycling isn’t just kid stuff.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, a coalition of state roadway safety officers, 88 percent of bicyclists killed in motor-vehicle crashes in 2015 were adults. The average age of victims was 45, and the majority of fatal bike crashes – 72 percent – took place on the roadway rather than at intersections.
Most common factors in fatal bicycle accidents
The most common contributing factor to bicycle fatalities is failure to wear a helmet, which was true of more than half of victims. But many other factors also lead to fatal crashes, including:
- Distracted driving
- Intentional aggressive behavior, also known as road rage
- A driver or passenger opening a car door into the path of an on-coming cyclist
- Poor infrastructure
- Rider error
- Collisions with a dog or other animal
- Crashes or collisions with a fixed object
Right to the Road Doesn’t Guarantee Safety
The GHSA estimates 45,000 cyclists were injured in crashes with automobiles; head, arms, and leg injuries topped reasons for emergency room trips. “When we bike, we have as much right to the road as when we drive,’’ a spokesperson for the GHSA said. “Unfortunately, when bikes and cars collide, cyclists are much more susceptible to serious injury or death.’’
In California, anyone under the age of 18 must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, on a street, public bicycle path or trail. In case of an accident, cyclists are encouraged to call the police and to exchange name, address, phone number, insurance and license number with any other person involved. Accident victims also should jot down the details of their surroundings; when and how the accident happened; weather and road conditions; and where all vehicles came to rest.
Some Rules to Remember
Bicyclists are also encouraged by the GHSA to:
- Obey all traffic laws.
- Remain alert
- Wear a helmet and other protective gear.
- Lobby state and local government officials for:
- More marked bike lanes,
- More clearly defined bike lanes that separate riders from cars, and
- Bike boxes at traffic signals that give riders a head start when a light turns green
We’ll add our encouragement to both ride cautiously and enjoy the journey. And if you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, attorney Brian Brandt will fight for your legal rights – and the just compensation you need.