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Bicycle Crashes on Summit Road at Mount Diablo – What you Need To Know

Under the California Vehicle Code, bicyclists have the same rights and duties on the road as motor vehicle operators. Some of the motor vehicles that bicycle riders encounter are buses and recreational vehicles (RVs). Due care and caution must be exercised by the drivers of those vehicles. They’re longer and wider than passenger cars. They have larger blind spots, longer braking distances and less maneuverability than passenger cars too.

Narrow Lanes Mean Limited Space

Most professional bus drivers are on the road with their buses every day, but most RV owners aren’t. RV owners might make weekend or annual trips, so they’re far less experienced in handling large vehicles than professional bus drivers. They can be a risk to anybody on the road. They might misjudge stopping distance, the length and width of their vehicle or how difficult it can be for them to maneuver. RVs and buses have turned into special problems for bicyclists on Summit Road on the way to the top of Mount Diablo. Once the rangers open the park at about 8:00 a.m., traffic starts making its way up its winding road with 369 curves to the top of the mountain. The traffic might include RVs and tour buses competing for limited space with bicycles on lanes of traffic that are eight to nine feet wide. That makes it impossible for many vehicles to comply with California’s law requiring motorists to stay three feet from bicyclists. On a typical day, there are more bicyclists on Summit Road than motorists.

No Passing Zones

The State of California recommends that all buses at the park have a pilot car ahead of them. It also recommends that RVs be limited to 20 feet in length. Those are just recommendations though. They need not be followed. What must be followed are California’s traffic laws. A total of 16 miles of no passing zones on Summit Road have been designated with twin yellow lines.

Turnouts and Signs

Bicycle turnouts have also been added. They’re expected to significantly reduce collisions, particularly on blind curves where most crashes between motor vehicles and bicyclists on Summit Road occur. The turnouts are about 100 to 150 feet in length. They allow bicyclists to move to the right and continue their rides while vehicles pass them without having to go into the opposite lane of traffic. Mount Diablo Cyclists have identified dozens of potential turnout locations, so cyclists are hoping to see additional bicycle turnouts painted onto the roadway in the near future. Sufficient pavement for them is already in place. Rocks and debris need only be swept away. The turnout areas can be painted and put to immediate use.

An article on the San Francisco Chronicle recently noted that signs saying “Do Not Pass Bikes On Blind Curves” while traveling up to the top of the mountain have been installed. Other signs are for drivers who are traveling downhill say “Avoid Crash Slow Down” have also been installed.

In addition to these and future improvements, park rangers are now required to give motorists a clear and unambiguous vehicle safety admonition to every driver who enters the park.

Bay Area Bicycle Law

About 125,000 bicyclists pedal to the top of Mount Diablo every year. If you’re a bicyclist who was injured in an accident that was caused by the driver of a motor vehicle anywhere in or around San Francisco, Mt. Diablo or anywhere in northern California, contact us right away to arrange for a free consultation and case review. We’re the only personal injury law firm in northern California focused exclusively on bicyclists.