Bay Area Bicycle Law is the only law firm in Northern California to specialize exclusively in representing cyclists. To learn more about how our Santa Cruz Bicycle accident lawyers can help you with your injury claim or wrongful death claim, contact us today for a free consultation at 866-242-9253.
Santa Cruz is a boon for outdoor activities, so it’s only natural that providing bicyclists with safe and fun places to ride is a high priority. The coastal town rubs up against forests and mountains which foster a thriving mountain bike community, while in downtown painted bike lanes and designated bike paths ease the stress of commuting and road riding. While Santa Cruz is largely known for its laid-back, beach town lifestyle, heavy motor traffic from tourism and local commuters is still a significant danger to cyclists. If you’re involved in a bike accident, contact Bay Area Bicycle Law by email or phone at 415-466-8717 for a free consultation.
Santa Cruz residents embrace the beautiful land and seascapes that surround the city. In order to preserve the area’s natural beauty, multiple organizations work together to develop plans for more environmentally sustainable infrastructure. Naturally, bicycles and other modes of transit that don’t rely on fossil fuels are central to this push. Bay Area Bicycle Law is a proud sponsor of Bike Santa Cruz County (http://www.bikesantacruzcounty.org), an advocacy organization that believes, “bicycling is a key contributor to an active community, a strong economy, and a well-protected natural environment.” Their goal is to improve upon Santa Cruz’s already bike friendly streets by addressing bicycle transit areas like the San Lorenzo Valley, Highway 9, Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network, Broadway-Brommer path, and Mar Vista Bridge. As they push for infrastructure improvements, Bike Santa Cruz County also engages with the community by offering group rides, guest speakers, and bike-related movies in an effort to expand the region’s cycling community.
Santa Cruz Bike Accidents
Because of the high level of bike traffic on Santa Cruz’s streets, bicycle accidents make up a significant percentage of the city’s total traffic incidences. In an article written for the Santa Cruz Sentinel, author Michael Todd notes that from 2010-2015, 36% of the 1500 documented traffic accidents involved a bicyclist. He goes on to note that “In 2014, Santa Cruz was first among more than 100 California cities of similar population — about 60,000 inhabitants — for wrecks with injury or death involving bicycles, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.”
The report cited by Todd notes that most collisions involving cyclists take place at major intersections with high volumes of traffic. From 2012-2015, the city surveyed areas which were prone to wrecks that caused injuries. In that time, eight such wrecks were documented at the following intersections: Laurel and Walti streets; Ocean Street and Broadway; Plymouth and Ocean streets; Highway 1 and River Street; and Washington and Laurel streets. The most prevalent areas with injury-inducing wrecks that did not happen at intersections include five wrecks at Water Street from Ocean to River Street, and five wrecks at West Cliff Drive from Beach to Bay Street. In response to these findings, the city of Santa Cruz is upping their police presence in areas with higher chances of collisions. While the presence of police officers is a great reminder for drivers to obey traffic laws, long-term goals to increase safety are also in the works. City Spokesman Scott Collins notes that “Since 2012, the city has received over $17 million in state and federal grants to support traffic-improvement projects designed directly to improve bike and pedestrian safety.”
The report on the aforementioned collisions notes that unsafe speeds, right of way violations, and improper turning are the most frequently cited causes of accidents. In our experience as a bicycle injury law firm, this holds true for most of the cases we take on. Right hand turn violations which cut off cyclists, cars traveling at unsafe speeds with limited visibility, failing to yield to bicyclists taking the lane, and dooring all create potentially fatal situations.
Following an accident, the driver’s testimony will attempt to place the cyclist at fault by playing off a common stigma that cyclists forego the rules of the road. Our attorneys have seen countless cases where the TCR (Traffic Collision Report) contains a shockingly inaccurate account of the incident which places 100% fault on the cyclist. To receive such news is a crushing blow that adds insult to injury. Even if the police officer who responds to the scene of a crash appears to take the side of the rider, having legal representation is of the utmost importance to ensure the rights of the cyclist are being protected and rightful compensation is made. A police report is a powerful document that can work for or against a rider; Bay Area Bicycle Law’s experienced attorneys will work hard to build the best case possible for our clients to show they are not at fault.
The Coastal Rail Trail is an exciting development in Santa Cruz which is decades in the making. The culmination of a 20 year effort to purchase the Santa Cruz Branch Rail line, the Coastal Rail Trail is planned to stretch from Davenport to Watsonville and offer pedestrians and cyclists a scenic coastal path that will co-exist with rail transit. The 32-mile trail is currently being constructed in sections and will be completed as additional funds become available. Some highlights are:
- A car-free, nearly flat, paved route for biking, walking, and wheel chair use by everyone including school children, commuters, families, seniors, and visitors.
- The Rail Trail travels within 1-mile of 44 schools, 92 parks, and 50% of our county’s population, connecting many key destinations.
- 13 of the 32 total miles are now underway and the first segment is scheduled to open in 2018.
- The 32-mile Rail Trail is the main spine of the 50-mile Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network within Santa Cruz County.
For more information and updates on the progress of the Santa Cruz Coastal Rail Trail, go to http://santacruztrail.org.
Legal Help Matters
Even though the city of Santa Cruz is doing its part to foster more bicycle-friendly roadways, accidents still occur. Santa Cruz draws visitors from many other cities and countries, some of whom may not be accustomed to high volumes of cyclists on the roadways. Having Bay Area Bicycle Law’s representation is the best way to navigate the complicated legal entanglements that follow an accident. After your initial consultation, our pledge to you is to keep you in the loop about your case from start to finish. We’ll contact witnesses at the scene, the police, and the insurance companies involved to build the strongest case possible on your behalf so that you can pay hospital bills, replace damaged property, and make up for missed work. We take pride in being specialists in bicycle litigation. Our attorneys actively participate in continuing education classes to stay up to date on bicycle law, tort law, and new litigation techniques to ensure that every legal facet of your case is considered.
Santa Cruz Bicycle Accident FAQs
What advantages are there in hiring a bicycle law attorney?
When a cyclist is injured by a motorist, the system is stacked against the bike rider. Police reports are often biased against the cyclist and most auto accidents have little understanding of how bicycle laws and auto laws are different. This lack of knowledge can harm a cyclist’s injury claim, and At Bay Area Bicycle Law, we only represent cyclists who have been injured while riding their bikes which gives the victim the advantage.
Can I settle my bicycle injury claim on my own?
In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need an attorney to make sure you get treated fairly when you get injured by a careless driver. However, in the real world, the insurance company is going to try to make the accident look like it was your fault or is going to drastically undervalue your claim. You need a knowledgeable and experienced attorney on your side to level the playing field.
The insurance company says the accident was my fault because I wasn’t riding in a bike lane, is that true?
Santa Cruz bike lane laws don’t restrict cyclists to bike lanes, rather they are there to protect the cyclist from the motor vehicles. Also, being guilty of a traffic violation doesn’t make one at fault in a personal injury case. You need to talk to an attorney who knows personal injury law, vehicle codes and bicycle law. Bay Area Bicycle Law is the only firm in Northern California that specializes in bicycle law.
Contact a Santa Cruz Bicycle accident lawyer today
If you were riding a bicycle and were involved in a crash despite using safe riding practices, reach out to Bay Area Bicycle Law at 415-466-8717 or bayareabicyclelaw.com to see if you have a case. A crash can be physically and monetarily debilitating, and the stress of a legal battle can exacerbate an already lengthy recovery process. Bay Area Bicycle Law understands what it takes to win cases on behalf of a cyclist, and we have the successful case history to prove it. By using our knowledge of California vehicle code and drawing from our extensive experience, we’re able to win you the highest settlement amount possible so that you can focus on your recovery.