The Bay Area is well known for its avid cyclists, but is also infamous for the degree of danger that its bicyclists face. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), California is the second-most-dangerous state for bicycle riders, with 109 fatalities in the state during 2008.
The NHTSA’s data reveals that nearly 70 percent of all pedal cyclist deaths occur in urban areas. Also, 64 percent of the fatal cycling accidents happen in traffic intersections. San Francisco riders face especially serious threats, as cars, taxis, trucks, SUVs, buses, fellow cyclists and the Muni are frequently the cause of Bay Area bicycle accidents.
Visions of Improvement in Bay Area Cycling
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there are ambitious plans to nearly triple the current amount of bicycle commuters in the City, by creating additional bike parking, cycling lanes in roadways and connecting the San Francisco’s series of bicycle routes. Fell Street, Valencia Street, Oak Street, San Jose Avenue and the Embarcadero have been mentioned as specific areas for enhancement. These projects are intended to make the City’s cycling safer and more enjoyable.
San Mateo has its own plans to enhance two-wheeled travel in its areas. After more than a decade of idling, the County has planned to add nearly 250 miles of on-street cycling lanes and 50 miles of off-street routes, as reported by SF Streetsblog. San Mateo’s plans intend to have several positive effects, including an increase in safety for bicycle riders, a decrease in pollution from motor vehicles, a decrease in traffic congestion and a positive effect on the wellness of the County’s residents.
The Threats That Remain
Even assuming that San Francisco and San Mateo can achieve their ambitious plans, they will take time to implement and will not provide a cure-all for the dangers that Bay Area bicyclists endure. Until drivers exercise more caution, motor vehicles will continue to injure and kill riders.
Cyclists should do their best to anticipate driver mistakes and avoid injury. There are a variety of resources discussing the most common causes of bike-car accidents and they all generally agree that the following situations lead to the most bicycle crashes where the driver is at fault:
- Motor vehicle failing to yield to cyclist – a common occurrence at intersections and near driveways or parking lots. Drivers often state they “did not see” the cyclist.
- Car door striking cyclist – drivers and passengers failing to check traffic before opening their car doors.
- Vehicle striking cyclist from behind – often happens when a motor vehicle unsafely overtakes a cyclist, or when an impaired or drunk driver fails to see bicycle.
Almost every experienced cyclist will tell you that many car-bicycle accidents are unavoidable. A Toronto study found that cyclists are at fault only 10 percent of the time.
When you or a loved one has suffered a bicycle accident that injures or kills the cyclist, it is crucial to contact an experienced San Francisco personal injury lawyer to see what your rights to recovery may be. This allows the victim or family to focus on healing while the attorney works on protecting the injured party’s legal rights.