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5 Challenges that Make Bay Area Biking Especially Difficult

Bikers in the Bay Area face a unique set of challenges that can make navigating the local streets difficult. These include:

  1. Our exceptionally steep streets. San Francisco streets may be beautiful and picturesque, but they create special hazards for drivers, pedestrians and bikers alike. For instance, cars and bikes have a harder time braking on steep streets, and riders often struggle to spot and avoid hazards that pop up suddenly.
  2. Warm weather year round. People love the Bay Area because of our year round temperate weather and ample outdoor options. But there’s a flip side to our collective passion for fresh air and sunshine. Pedestrians and other bikes create serious traffic congestion, leading to collisions and impatient behavior from both motorists and bikers.
  3. Public transportation creates additional hazards. Our robust light rail and bussing systems decongest the roads and eliminate pollution, but these systems also complicate street navigation.  
  4. More people are biking. According to a recent survey, the Bay Area witnessed a 56 percent increase in riders between 2006 and 2010. This spike in bike traffic in and of itself increases the risk of accidents.
  5. Drivers and cyclists don’t always understand the risks. For instance, under-reporting of bicycle accidents on both statewide and national levels leads to false assumptions about safety.

Cost of Bike Collisions

One trauma surgeon at San Francisco General Hospital specifically studied more than 2,500 cyclist accidents between 2000 and 2009. She calculated that the cost of treating these victims totaled $36.4 million. To her surprise, “solo falls” comprised about 45 percent of injury accidents. Approximately 55 percent of hurt riders did not report their injuries to the police; instead, they only related their incidents to hospital personnel. The city potentially unwittingly encourages this underreporting problem by not requiring hospitals to report bicycle accidents to the San Francisco Police Department.

Additional Risks of Bay Area Biking

False assumptions about bike-car collisions – such as the common belief that injurious “solo accidents” are relatively rare – mean that riders might not exercise common defensive safety precautions, such as wearing a helmet or using reflective gear, because they feel safe when riding alone.

Our city wants to attract cyclists and create a bike friendly environment. But we need to understand and prepare for likely risks.

What to Do After a Bike Crash

First of all, if you haven’t yet obtained medical help, seek assistance from a qualified physician immediately. A “slight headache” following a skid out or collision with a motor vehicle may be a predicate to a more serious medical condition, like a concussion. Emerging science suggests that the brain’s metabolism changes in the 4-7 days after a head injury, making the brain susceptible to catastrophic damage (i.e. contusions, bleeding, swelling, etc.) if a second, mild head impact occurs during this sensitive time. If you (or the injured biker) experiences headaches, nausea, blacking out, vomiting or disorientation/memory loss after a wipe out or bike crash, get help ASAP.

In terms of holding the driver who hit you liable for your medical bills, bike repair costs and other damages, time may also be of the essence. Call our experienced attorneys today for a free strategic consultation to get a clear sense of your options to make a claim.