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Cyclist Dead after Collision with Motor Vehicle in South Sacramento

A cyclist died when his bike collided with a motor vehicle around 8:40, Tuesday, April 23, 2019. The cyclist was riding his bike on Elder Creek Road between Stockton Boulevard and 63rd Street and was struck by a motor vehicle.

It’s not clear if the cyclist was traveling in the class II bike path that runs along Elder Creek Road or how the accident happened. According to police at the scene, the driver of the car received minor injuries and stayed at the scene refusing medical treatment. There is no indication of impaired driving and no charges have been filed.

Bike Lane Accidents

Bike lanes save lives, but just because a road has a bike lane, doesn’t mean a bike v. car accident still won’t occur. Though we have no idea in the above accident whether the cyclist was traveling inside the bike lane on Elder Creek Road, we do know that if he was, he was safer than driving in traffic.

In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers found that bike lanes do in fact reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities. California has four types of bike lanes:

  • Class I: Called shared-use paths (bikes, pedestrians, scooters, etc.) these run in paths away from vehicle streets and limit any street crossings.
  • Class II: Also called designated bike lanes, these typically run alongside or in traffic and re marked by strips and stencils to be used for bikes.
  • Class III: These are roads that are preferred for cyclists to ride with traffic but the lanes themselves have no marking or designations.
  • Class IV: Also called “protected” or “separated” bike lanes. These are lanes marked for bikes that are also physically separated from the streets and run alongside the streets. They are separated by a physical barrier or are raised above the roadway.

The study looked class I, III, IV paths and found that off-road or class I paths show a 60 percent reduction in collisions; designated or class III lanes show a 50 percent reduction in injuries and deaths, and separated or class IV lanes show a 90 percent reduction in fatalities and injuries.

However, even when riding in a bike lane, a cyclist is still at some risk of being struck by a car. Many times it’s the fault of the motorist, but sometimes the cyclist is to blame.

Causes of Designated Bike Lane Crashes

This means that even under the protection of bike lanes, cyclists still are at risk of being struck by motor vehicles. Common cause of accidents while using designated bike lanes are:

  • Failure to stay in lanes: Both bikes and cars often get out of their lane putting cyclists at risk.
  • Intersections: Designated bike lanes do not exist in the intersection, and at this point, the cyclist must obey the traffic rules of the intersection.
  • Cyclist Left turns: Designated bike lanes typically go along the right hand lane of the roadway, so when a cyclist wants to take a left, he or she must exit the bike lane and get into the left lane and turn while obeying all traffic rules.
  • Vehicle (especially large trucks) right turn: When a car makes a right turn, it must enter the bike lane, which is allowed by law. Many times either the cyclist of the motorist isn’t looking, and a collision occurs.
  • Right hook: This usually refers to a collision that comes from a motorist traveling in the right lane and turning right and into the path of a bike that is riding between the car and the curb or a row of parked cars. A designated lane right hook happens when a motorist fails to enter the designated bike path to make a right, but does so by turning across the designate lane into the path of a cyclist.
  • Dooring: When a motorist opens their car door in the path of a cyclist. Where there is a designate lane running between parked cars can the right-hand traffic lane, dooring can still occur.

Liability and Bike Lanes

If a cyclist is struck outside a bike lane on a street that has one, does this mean that the cyclist was in the wrong? California law doesn’t mandate that cyclists ride in class II class IV lanes when they exist.  This means that the choice to use a bike lane is the cyclist’s. However, this doesn’t prevent an insurance company from trying to use the lack of use of a bike lane to make the cyclist look negligent.

Do I need an Attorney?

If I’m cycling and am hit by a car while riding in a designated bike lane, do I need an attorney? In most cases you should talk to an attorney who can explain your rights to you and who has knowledge of bicycle law. Bay Area Bike Law is the only firm in northern California that deals exclusively with bike law.

A consultation is free, and if you decide to have them represent you, there are no fees paid until you get paid by the insurance company. Start putting someone on your side, call us at (415) 466 8717 or click here to contact us online. If you still wonder if we’re the right firm for you or even if you need an attorney, read this this for help answering these questions.