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Cycling in San Francisco: Just How Dangerous Is It?

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Among the major cities in the United States, San Francisco offers a unique cross-section of factors that make it one of the most appealing locations for cyclists. From an incredibly small land mass of roughly 47 square miles, to a massive commuter culture, the “City by the Bay” is ideally suited to alternate forms of transportation like walking, public transportation, and cycling in San Francisco.

Taking into account San Francisco’s general appeal among tourists, it’s little surprise that the city repeatedly appears on top lists for cycling, such as Bicycling’s 2018 Best Bike Cities in America, where the city was praised for its $112 million investment in bike-related enhancements. Despite this, accidents in the city remain elevated in 2021, and the demand for a skilled San Francisco bicycle accident attorney persists.

The Dangers of Cycling in Urban Areas

Bicycling in any city presents a certain amount of risk. At a fundamental level, a bicyclist has far more exposure to the road than other forms of transportation, and is at a pronounced risk in the event of a collision with an automobile. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 846 bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents in 2019. The risk is most elevated in urban areas, with 75% of bicyclist deaths in 2017 occurring in cities.

For assessing how bikeable any given community is, the NHTSA provides a scoring checklist with several key points to consider, including:

  • Did you have a place to bicycle safely?
  • How was the surface you rode on?
  • How were the intersections you rode through?
  • Did drivers behave well?
  • Was it easy for you to use your bike?
Bicycle and helmet in crosswalk, illustrating potential dangers of cycling in San Francisco

In the event of an unsafe score, the NHTSA recommends a number of actions to improve one’s safety, from reporting reckless drivers, to planning a different route ahead of time. Unfortunately, even the best preparation or riding conditions can still result in accidents due to the negligence of others, and may require the services of a San Francisco bicycle accident law firm.

How Dangerous is Cycling in San Francisco?

Like Los Angeles, the city of San Francisco is currently engaged in a Vision Zero campaign. The program aims to completely eliminate traffic deaths by 2024 through a variety of city planning agendas, including funding for new protected bike lanes throughout the city’s most dangerous areas. Tracking the city’s accidents, organizers of Vision Zero found that 75% of the city’s most dangerous accidents occurred on just 13% of streets. These streets have been dubbed the High Injury Network (HIN), and are a focus for improvements, like the new bike lane in the Panhandle district, which was completed last summer.

Despite the city’s efforts thus far, Vision Zero is proving to be an uphill battle. In 2019, the San Francisco Chronicle found that serious traffic accidents had spiked during the program, with severe resulting injuries rising from 492 in 2011 to 574 in 2017. Though the city has yet to record any fatalities in their 2021 San Francisco bicycle accident statistics, 2020 saw a marginal year-over-year increase in general traffic fatalities (even with lowered traffic on the roads due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Given the data, it’s apparent that cycling in San Francisco remains a dangerous activity, with considerable work on the city’s part remaining before the goal of Vision Zero is fully achieved.

Injured in a San Francisco bicycle accident? We may be able to help.

Traffic accidents involving bicycles present an immense amount of risk to the rider, and often result in a long, costly path to recovery. If you’re looking for the right San Francisco bicycle accident lawyer for your case, you’ve come to the right place. The attorneys at Avrek have an impeccable track record in the states of California, Arizona, and Nevada, with more than $1 Billion recovered for clients in over 10,000 cases. Contact us or fill out a form for a free consultation – we’re here to help!

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