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Cyclist Struck by Car in Critical Condition

A 52-year-old man was hit by a car while riding his bike in SOMA. According to police, the accident happened around 8:20 a.m. Tuesday, April 16, 2019, near Seventh and Berry streets.

The cyclist suffered serious injuries and was transported to a local hospital in critical condition. The driver stayed at the scene and cooperated with authorities, and alcohol, drugs or suspected driving were not suspected to be factors.

Bicycle Accidents in Bike Lanes

San Francisco has been named one of the bike-friendliest cities in the U.S. with almost four percent of all commuters getting to work by bicycle. The city boasts over 425 miles of bike paths with around 150 of those being designated bike lanes on the city streets, and more are planned every year.

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.

Seventh Street in San Francisco has class II bike lanes for both directions, and though we don’t know what happened in the above-mentioned accident, riding on a street with bike lanes doesn’t mean that the cyclist stayed in the bike lane, or that the spot where an accident happens has a bike lane.

Seventh Street is a good example. Class II bike lanes are designated by markings, but they don’t continue through intersections, and in some places on the street the bike lanes give way to a parking lane or disappear because of a narrow section of the street.

Cyclists are then left to ride on the street with the cars, and under California law, they are considered just like another vehicle when in comes to traffic laws and rights-of-way.

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 causes of accidents while using designated bike lanes are:

  • Ifffntersections: 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.

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 Bicycle Law is the only firm in northern California that deals exclusively with bike law.

A consultation is free, and if you decide to have BABL 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.