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Cyclist Killed After Leaving Bike Lane

A 62-year-old was hit by a car riding his bike and died from his injuries. The accident happened around 11 am, Wednesday, January 30th in Long Beach. The cyclist was riding in a designated bike lane on Los Coyotes Diagonal, and upon approaching Palos Verdes Avenue with a green light in his direction, turned left across all lanes of traffic into the path of a Toyota Corolla.

According to police, the injured cyclist was transported to a local hospital where her was pronounced dead. The driver of the Toyota remained at the scene and cooperated with authorities.

Bike Lane Accidents

In the Bay Area, there are over 1,200 miles of bike lanes that weave throughout its cities, and more are planned to be built. Several studies show that designated bike lanes greatly reduce accidents and thus injuries and fatalities for cyclists.

California has three 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 along side the streets. They are separated by a physical barrier or are raised above the roadway.

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

This makes sense as in designated bike lanes, the cyclist is still riding in traffic with only a marking on the pavement to separate the biker and the car. However it still garners a 50 percent reduction because the cars are not sharing the same spot on the road with the cyclist.

The protected lanes have a substantial reduction because there is a physical barrier between the car and the cyclist, and in the off-road bike paths where there are no cars, collisions happen with those sharing the use of the path such as scooters and pedestrians, and the injuries will be much less severe and deaths less common.

Causes of Designated Bike Lane Crashes

The 50 percent reduction in designated bike lanes is substantial and is good news. However, this number can go lower to avoid the accidents that still occur. 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 their right lane turn right and into the path of a bike that is riding between the car and the curb or a row of parked cars. However, 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 and the right-hand traffic lane, dooring can still occur.

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.