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What Are the Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?

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When trying to understand what are the most common causes of bicycle accidents it’s important to consider the location, the rider and the environment. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), California had the second highest rate of bicycle fatalities in the nation at 133 in 2019. The same report also found that men bike riding in urban areas while under the influence of alcohol are most likely to get in a serious accident resulting in injury or death.

Regulating bike laws to help minimize injuries is complicated. The majority of bike laws in America usually fall under municipal jurisdiction, so the rules of the road will change from city to city. Biking on highways is one example where the rules for riding a bike in California fall under state purview. There are many ways to make cycling safer like always wearing a helmet and using proper bike lights, however, choosing not to drink alcohol while biking is the safest option.

California and San Francisco Bicycle Accident Statistics

Since 2014, San Francisco’s Vision Zero initiative has been researching ways to end all traffic related fatalities in the city, and one strategy is to increase the amount of bicycles and pedestrians in the city by 80%. The campaign has also been tracking where bike accidents occur, and 75% of the city’s most dangerous accidents occurred on just 13% of its streets. Efforts to make those areas safer appear to be working. When comparing cities in California, Los Angeles had the third most bicycle related deaths in the U.S. with 14 fatalities, compared to San Francisco’s one fatality (NHTSA).

The leading cause of all bicycle fatalities in the United States is from accidents involving light trucks, which includes SUVS, with 345 fatalities and cars with 308 fatalities. The majority of all collisions resulted in the bicyclist getting hit with the front of the car (89.9%) or light truck (87.8%). Sideswipes from the left or right side, and collisions with the rear of the vehicle only account for less than 5% of all accidents. The odds of a fatality resulting in a bus accident is fairly low accounting for only 12 cyclist deaths across the U.S. in 2019. 

California and Los Angeles Bicycle Laws

Man holding knee in pain next to bike - what are the most common causes of bicycle accidents?

Every city creates their own laws when it comes to bicycling. The general rule of thumb is if you’re travelling at the same speed as a motor vehicle, you should follow the same rules of the road. It is legal to bike on some sidewalks in Los Angeles, as long as the cyclist respects pedestrians and does not bike “with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property” (LAMC 56.15). This law also depends on the district you’re riding through. It is illegal to ride on the sidewalk at any time within designated business areas.

Where you may cycle and the laws around safety equipment like helmets and lights are set at the state level. The California bicycle helmet law applies to anyone under age 18, and children riding in a bike seat or being towed by a bike trailer.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?

Although the amount of bicycle accidents will change from city to city, the causes of the injuries are attributed to the same factors. According to Avrek Law’s expert in bicycle accidents, many clients are injured due to:

  • Motorist or cyclist driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Motorist driving while distracted
  • Motorist speeding
  • Motorist not yielding the right of way to a cyclist
  • Cyclist driving recklessly
  • Cyclist not obeying traffic laws

Bicycle Accident Law Experts

Avrek Law has fought and won many bicycle injury lawsuits, including a $1 million bike accident compensation case involving a semi-truck. If you suffer from injuries due to a bike accident, there could be some legal options available for you.

Avrek Law has a team of experts ready to hear about your case. The consultation is free and you’ll get advice from a law firm with more than $1 billion recovered in more than 45,000 cases. View one of our locations or contact us for a free consultation – we’re here to help!

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