Curbing Bicycle Accidents in Los Angeles

Curbing Bicycle Accidents in Los Angeles

December 28, 2015

Ellis Law Corporation


Bicycle accidents are a common problem in Los Angeles, with the most bicyclist deaths by death occurring in California and Florida today. Now, city officials are attempting to reduce the number of fatalities by using a proven safety program from Sweden known as Vision Zero. The hope is that by collecting data on where accidents are more likely to occur, officials can use the information to modify city infrastructure to make the streets safer for cyclists.

Vision Zero was approved by Swedish parliament in 1997, with a purpose of reducing traffic fatalities to “zero” in the country. The program, which has seen significant success, uses accident data to identify the most dangerous streets and then make infrastructure changes to make those areas safer. Since implementation, the largest cycling city in Sweden, Malmo, has seen only 16 cycling fatalities in the past decade. With 100,000 bicycle trips per day in this city, the numbers are impressive.

Vision Zero comes to L.A.

This past August, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the city would aim to eliminate traffic-related fatalities by 2025, using the Vision Zero program. This will be a tall order, considering that on Vermont Avenue alone there have been more than 230 collisions involving cyclists in the past five years. Venice Boulevard has also seen more than 200 collisions during that same time frame, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The city began by looking at the top 10 locations in Los Angeles for bicycle collisions and used that information to pinpoint the most dangerous intersections in the city. The next step is to identify the reasons behind the large number of collisions. In the case of Vermont Avenue, reasons for collisions included drivers failing to yield the right of way, driving at unsafe speeds and improper turns. Bicyclists were also responsible for some of the accidents, usually because they were riding on the wrong side of the road.

Once the locations and specific hazards have been identified, officials can take steps to reduce danger with practical changes to the infrastructure. In some cases, that might mean a painted bike lane, while other areas might need a special lane for cyclists separated from the roadway by parked cars. As the Vision Zero Initiative website explains, the program is about “looking forward and creating strategies to take safety to new levels.”

Liability in a cycling accident

The large majority of accidents involving cyclists take place at intersections, but the good news is cyclists can take steps to lower their risk for a crash. First, ensure your bicycle is as visible as possible by adding lamps to the front and rear and wearing reflective clothing when you ride. Next, always ride defensively, watching out for cars and other cyclists at all times. Finally, learn emergency maneuvers that might help you avoid an accident when a potentially dangerous situation arises.

If an accident does occur, it is not always assumed the motorist was at fault. The cyclist can also be held responsible for a collision if the rider was not following rules of the road. This might include riding on the wrong side of the street or failing to stop for a stop light or sign.

The motorist can be held liable for accidents caused by driver recklessness or negligence. This might include running a light or stop sign, speeding or drifting into the bike lane. In these cases, the motorist may be responsible for the injured cyclist’s medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses.

If you or someone you love is injured in a cycling accident, help is available. Contact the Los Angeles car accident lawyers at Ellis Injury Law at 310-641-3335 for a free case evaluation and answers to all your legal questions.