Cyclist Hit by Metro Bus in Santa Monica
A Santa Monica High School student was injured when a bus struck her while she was riding in the bike lane. Fortunately, she survived the collision and was conscious when Santa Monica Police officers arrived. The accident happened near the Santa Monica Public Library around 2 p.m. Sunday, March 17, 2019.
The child’s family said that she was an experienced bike rider and was on her way to the library when she was hit. The accident is still under investigation, and it’s unclear at this time if any charges will be brought.
Bike Lane Accidents
The idea of a bike lane is to provide safety for the bike rider as they ride on the city streets. While they do provide some protection, accidents still happen. The bike lane the injured high school student was riding in was a Class II bike lane which is designated by striping and marking but has no physical barrier between it and the vehicle lane. Most of these are between the far-right traffic lane and the curb or sidewalk. Other classes of bike lanes offer differing levels of protection.
Buses and Cyclists
A multitude of studies show that riding in bike lane is safer for the rider and reduces accidents injuries and fatalities by significant margins, and some studies showing an almost 50 percent drop in accidents. However, in a Class II bike lane, cars, buses and other vehicles are not completely restricted from driving in the bike lane. For example, under California vehicle codes, a car can enter the bike lane when making a right-hand turn up to 200 feet from the intersection.
While we don’t know how the above-mentions accident happened, this means buses can be in a bike lane to turn as well. This puts cyclists an other vehicles in the same lane for a time. Other times, cars will stop temporarily in a bike lane to run into the store or pick someone. While parking in a bike lane is illegal, it doesn’t stop the practice form continuing.
Buses often cause problems for cyclists whether in a bike lane or in the streets. In California, cyclists are treated like vehicles for the purposes of traffic violations and right-of-way while outside of designated bike lanes. Buses have large blind spots and make wide turns, and many time bus drivers don’t see cyclists around their bus.
What can be Done?
While Class II bike lanes help in reducing accidents, injuries and deaths, can be further lowered with the use of protected bike lanes. These are Class IV bike lanes and are being implemented in many cities in California. They have a physical barrier between the bike rider and the traffic lanes, and they reduce accidents by 80 to 90 percent, according to some studies.
Another thing cyclists can do is to be vigilant and alert when riding around buses and larger vehicles. Be wary of their blind spots, especially when the bus is turning. A safe rider learns to anticipate when they might enter into a dangerous situation.
Do I need an Attorney If I’m hit While Riding?
In most cases, especially if the injuries are severe enough, you need to talk to a professional who knows bicycle law, traffic law and how insurance companies work. The attorneys at Bay Area Bike Law have the knowledge and experience to help Californians in these cases. SoCal cyclists should be advised that we also assist clients in Los Angeles County.
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.