Woman Cyclist Killed While Driving in Traffic
A car struck a 62-year-old woman riding her bicycle on Railroad Avenue gravely injuring her. The accident happened near 15th Avenue around 7 a.m., Friday, March 1, 2019. According to officials at the scene, the driver of the car that struck her stayed at the scene and was cooperating with police.
The injured cyclist was taken to Henry May Newhall Hospital where she was pronounced dead. The accident is under investigation, and neither alcohol nor distracted driving is thought to be a factor in the crash.
Driving in Traffic
To many, riding a bicycle in traffic might seem counter-intuitive. However, without bike paths taking cyclists everywhere cars go, then a bicycle wouldn’t be a very effective means of transportation is they couldn’t be on the city streets with the cars. California law allows bikes on most city and suburban streets and usually bans them on divided highways and freeways.
California law also states that when operating a bike in traffic, the cyclist must obey the rules of the road and is treated just like a vehicle for purposes of right-of-way and code violations. In San Francisco there are 1,260 miles of city streets and around 450 miles of bike paths, lanes and protected lanes. This means that to get around the city, driving in traffic is a must.
Riding in the streets is dangerous for a cyclist for several reasons. First is the size and weight of the cars which are over 20 times heavier that a bike and rider. Any collision—even a bump—can be devastating for a cyclist. Second, cyclists are completely unprotected with the maybe exception of a helmet. A car has a steel frame and some metal or fiberglass to protect its occupants, but the rider is exposed.
Finally, motorists often don’t see cyclists. Studies have shown that drivers often have cyclist and pedestrian “blindness” which means they can actually see the cyclist, but their mind ignores it proceeds just like the cyclist wasn’t there. This is a problem for cyclists, but safety experts suggest steps a cyclist can take to even the odds a bit.
When riding in traffic, there are some safety tips:
- Obey the traffic laws of the road. Ie: Stop at stop signs and lights.
- Ride with the flow of traffic, not against it.
- Ride in control at all times. Proceed at a safe speed that permits you to react quickly to unexpected circumstances.
- Never ride in low-light or dark conditions without front and rear bike lights and reflectors.
- Keep a safe distance between yourself and other riders or vehicles.
- When on a highway, don’t hug the curb too closely. Maintain a comfortable distance from the pavement edge.
- Ride in single file. This is required by law in most states. (Note: Some states allow cyclists to travel 2 abreast. Do this only on less-traveled roads that are free of traffic. Riding 3 abreast is usually illegal.)
- Avoid sidewalks unless no other safe option exists. Motorists at intersections or when leaving or entering driveways often do not see swift-moving cyclists traveling on sidewalks..
- Don’t pass other cyclists on the right.
- Have Road Awareness: Stay alert to changes in your surroundings at all times.
- Communicate your intentions to drivers and other cyclists as much as possible. Use hand signals whenever you turn or stop.
Click here for more riding tips.
What to do If Injured in Traffic
In just about every bicycle accident, it ends up with the rider on the ground, and if that ground is a busy city street, the first thing to is get to a safe place—if you can. Sometimes the rider is too injured to move or is unconscious and thus still at risk for a secondary impact.
Once safe, and if you are able, get as much information as possible. Take pictures, get names especially of those who witnessed the accident. The next thing to do is to focus on your medical treatment and on getting well.
Soon after, the bills and financial losses will begin rising, so then it’s a good time to think about getting compensation. Many cyclists wonder if they can get compensation for a bike injury while riding in the streets. Don’t assume that it was your fault just because you are in the street riding with the cars, remember you have a much right to be there as they do, and driver have a responsibility to use due care and causation around cyclists.
Do I need an Attorney?
In most cases, especially if the injuries are severe enough, at the least, 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 you in these cases. They are the only firm in North California that deals exclusively with bicycle 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.