Los Angeles City Bicycle Accidents: Will More Bike Lanes Provide Solutions?

Los Angeles City Bicycle Accidents: Will More Bike Lanes Provide Solutions?

June 22, 2013

Ellis Law Corporation

Personal Injury

The mayor’s recent announcement of an initiative to increase dedicated bicycle lanes on streets in Los Angeles, Santa Monica and other boroughs came as welcome news to cycling advocates such as Transportation Alternatives. In a recent Quinnipiac poll, a solid majority of Los Angelesers supported an expansion of bike lanes “because it’s greener and healthier for people to ride their bicycles.” Yet while Los Angeles City has 6,000 miles of streets that cater to cars, taxis and, for the most part, trucks and buses, a modest expansion of bike lanes by 255 miles in recent years has triggered opposition.

LA bicycle accidents can be reduced by making sure that bicyclists do not have to shoulder in among much more massive motor vehicles. The risks to the cyclist are obvious, whether he or she is wearing a helmet or not. Broken bones, back injuries, concussions and other head and neck injuries frequently result when a car or truck strikes a bicycle or a rider slams into a door that suddenly opens in the path ahead.

The mayor’s office recently released a memo highlighting several important points in support of further bike lane expansion:

  • Community Boards around the City have approved bike lane installations on major thoroughfares, and several high-profile major projects in Santa Monica and Los Angeles were initiated by the community itself.
  • Bike lanes can be altered after installation to remedy unforeseen conflicts with parking or other concerns.
  • Safety increases for bicyclists and pedestrians: while ridership has increased in recent years, crashes and serious injuries have gone down. Bike lanes reduce the frequency of crashes by 40 to 50 percent.
  • Two thirds of the bike lanes created in LA did not impact parking availability nor reduce the number of traffic lanes.

Bike advocates see the attempt by some to mandate bicycle registration in Los Angeles City as an attempt to reduce overall biking numbers and decrease the need for dedicated lanes. One solid rationale behind this point: cyclists benefit from the idea of “safety in numbers,” and more riders on LA streets make motorists better aware of the need to drive safely.

Safer Streets for Younger Bicyclists

Child bicycle accidents make up a disproportionate share of all vehicle-bike crashes, and drivers have an enhanced responsibility for looking out for young rider. This obligation is underscored by the fact that a defendant in a Los Angeles personal injury case has a greater burden of proving contributory negligence of a child rider in the aftermath of an accident causing injury or wrongful death.

A new LA bike-share program will bring even greater numbers of bicyclists to the streets, as well as enhancements to our quality of life. Reduced air pollution, less crowding and better physical health will all result if bike use increases significantly in the near future. But motor vehicles will always share those roads, and while accident rates will certainly be reduced by implementation of smart transportation policies, crashes between bicyclists and cars, trucks, buses and taxis will never be eliminated. After any bike accident that causes injury or fatality to a rider, accident victims and surviving family members demand answers and deserve compensation for the losses they suffer.

LA Bike Accident Attorneys Protect Riders on City Streets

Los Angeles City enforces a lengthy list of ordinances designed to enhance bicycle safety, and many of these focus on the role of the cyclist. Only riders 12 years and younger on small bikes may ride on sidewalks (unless otherwise designated), riders must always hold on to the handlebars, brakes must be in good repair, and lights are required from dusk until dawn.

But the most careful rider has no protection when a driver illegally merges into a bike lane, rolls through a stop sign without looking or opens a door without first checking in the rearview mirror for an approaching bike. Driver negligence presents the foremost danger to LA cyclists, and the costs resulting from a motorist’s distracted driving  or other lapse of attention can be immense.

A Los Angeles personal injury attorney with experience in bike accident litigation can provide important insights to an injury victim or family that faces lost wages, medical expenses and other damages. The harm caused by a bicycle collision can leave all participants confused about what really happened, and a bike crash lawyer can provide crucial representation by securing witnesses, consulting with experts to assess crash evidence and negotiating with insurance companies to hold negligent motorists accountable.