Articles Posted in Bicycle Accidents

At the Brod Law Firm, we are strong supporters of Northern California’s bicycle riders. Attorney Greg Brod is a member of both the San Francisco and Marin County Bicycle Coalitions and our team has San Francisco bicycle injury law firm helped many injured riders recover compensation from those who put them at undue risk. While we are dedicated to pursuing those whose negligent decisions harm (or even kill) riders, we also urge riders to make every effort to keep themselves safe in the event of a crash. One step every rider should take is wearing a bicycle helmet for every two-wheeled trip.

Riders Split Over Helmet Requirement for Adult Bicycle Riders

bikepack.jpgThis weekend’s San Francisco Chronicle reported on a conflict among California riders regarding a potential change in the state’s helmet laws. Currently the law requires minors to wear bicycle helmets but State Senator Carol Liu has introduced a bill that would require adult riders to don a helmet or face a $25 fine. If approved, the legislation would make California the first state to require helmet use by riders over age 18. The pending bill would also require the use of reflective clothing at night.

Bicycling can be a fun hobby, an alternative to the gym for the fitness-minded, a wallet and environment friendly commuting method, or a combination of the above. While it is usually health-positive, bicycle accidents can range in severity from simple bumps and bruises to a fatal crash. We have written numerous posts addressing the dangers posed by drivers on auto-pilot who fail to pay attention to travelers on two wheels instead of four. This danger is real and is probably the source of the majority of serious bicycle collisions. It is not, however, the only threat to riders. Bike-on-bike collisions are dangerous on their own and can also be the first incident in a chain reaction that includes a motor vehicle crash. In some bike versus bike cases, according to our Oakland bicycle accident lawyer, an injury lawsuit may be appropriate.

Rider Killed During Group Bicycle Ride in Livermore

A Saturday morning bicycle ride turned tragic, claiming a rider’s life in the Livermore area last weekend. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that fifty to sixty cyclists were riding east on Highland Road near Manning Road. Two riders collided and a third, an unidentified cyclist riding towards the middle of the group, attempted to avoid the crash by crossing over the double-yellow lines into the opposing lane of traffic. In this attempt, the third rider, identified by other cyclists as Dublin resident and high school administrator Herman Shum, was thrown from his bike and landed in the road. At the same moment, a westbound truck driver noticed the collision and braked while veering to avoid the incident. Tragically, this happened at the very moment Shum fell and the truck hit the cyclist who was later pronounced dead at the scene. In addition to the fatality, one rider suffered major injuries and one incurred minor injuries. CHP Officer Eric Anderson told reporters that both crashes, the bike-bike and truck-bike collisions, are under investigation. Police do not believe alcohol or drug use was a factor.

The Brod Law Firm has long been dedicated to protecting bicycle riders in Northern California. Attorney Brod is a member of the Marin County and San Francisco Bicycle Coalitions and he has many years’ experience representing bicycle accident victims. Throughout the years, much has changed…the phrase “texting while driving” would have elicited confused stares when Attorney Brod passed the Bar in 1996…and yet much has remained the same…distracted drivers remain one of the greatest threats to bicycle riders’ safety. Our firm changes our approach and strategies over the years, adapting to current times, but our commitment to being a top-notch law firm for bicycle riders in Oakland and throughout the Northern California region remains.

Study Identifies Increase in Bicycle Fatalities and Changes in Rider Profiles

The Oakland Tribune reported this week on the findings in a report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association. Among the most distressing statistics — bicycle fatalities in the U.S. increased by 16% from 2010 (621 deaths) to 2012 (722 deaths). This far exceeded the rate of bikeshadow.jpgincrease in other forms of motor vehicle deaths which rose by just 1%. Focusing on California reveals even more troubling numbers. California had more bicycle deaths than any other state in the study period, 338 cyclists killed between 2010 and 2012. While this might be attributed to population and climate, California was also (along with Florida) one of the states with the highest increase in annual rider fatalities growing from 100 deaths in 2010 to 123 in 2012. Nationally, bicyclist deaths are about 2% of the all motor vehicle related fatalities. In California, the percentage is just over 4%.

It is a shame that so many people abandon their bicycles the day they get their first driver’s license, putting two wheels aside in favor of four and leaving their bicycle behind as a piece of childhood. Bicycling as an adult can advance the rider’s physical and emotional well-being, reduce commuting costs, and benefit the environment. Sadly, riders face danger every time they set out on the roads and bicycle accidents can cause serious injury or even death. Our Berkeley bicycle accident lawyer stands ready to represent injured riders, a practice that we believe helps the victims of careless drivers while also helping make the roads a little safer for everyone.

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On Sunday morning, a bicycle and car collided at the intersection of Spruce and Eunice streets near the Berkeley Hills. The Oakland Tribune reported on the crash which occurred at 8:15 A.M. and left the 62 year-old rider facing life-threatening injuries. As of the Monday report, the cyclist remained in critical condition and police had not released a preliminary cause. The car was driven by a 63 year-old from Berkeley who remained on the scene and has been cooperating with the police.

Traveling by bike is a cost effective and environmentally friendly way to navigate through the city of San Francisco. In fact, according to Bicycling magazine, San Francisco is the 8th most bike friendly city in all of America. They claim that to make the list, a city must “‘possess both a robust cycling infrastructure and a vibrant bike culture.” San Francisco must possess these qualities and more to achieve the number 8 spot on this highly coveted list. However, no matter how bike friendly San Francisco may be, it is a sobering fact that bicyclists often suffer from serious injuries due to bicycle accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2011, almost 48,000 cyclists nation wide sustained some type of injury. Therefore, it is good to know that San Francisco is taking special measures to make streets safer for bikers by installing a new contra-flow bike lane on Polk Street.

New Contra Flow Bike Lane Moves Against Traffic on Polk Street

The San Francisco Gate reports that starting today; bicyclists may ride in a new bike lane that that encourages them to ride in the opposite direction of traffic on Polk Street. This new brightly painted green lane is referred to as a “contra-flow” lane and is separated from traffic by a 6 foot wide raised island that is beautifully landscaped. Although this is not the first “contra-flow” lane in the city, it is special because it is the only one that is not only physically separated from the street, but is adorned with greenery. The San Francisco Bike Coalition is especially happy about the new bike lane and their spokesperson exclaimed, “even though it’s just a couple of blocks, it shows what a radical change a small improvement can make.”

The problem of pedestrian and cyclist accidents in San Francisco is a topic all-too-familiar to readers of this blog. As a San Francisco personal injury law firm, our team is always focused on the “Why?” This question is part of our client representation, but it is also part of our commitment to prevention. We want to make the fabled Streets of San Francisco safer for all travelers; a key piece of this effort is identifying common factors in previous accidents. We are particularly concerned when this examination leads to the conclusion that the city and dangerous roads may be partly to blame.

Statistics Point to High-Injury Corridors that See a Disproportionate Share of Serious Accidents

As noted in a recent San Francisco Chronicle article, the city has spent time and directed funds toward the problem of pedestrian and cyclist accidents, but the threat continues and many suggest a failure to follow through with planed proposals is a key part of the problem. The spike in pedestrian deaths in late 2013 has continued into 2014, including the death of a pedestrian in the Parkside neighborhood last week. While driver behavior is obviously a major cause of dangerous accidents, statistic reveal that a mere 6 percent of San Francisco streets see a whopping 60 percent of auto collisions in which a pedestrian is killed or seriously hurt. Likewise, 5.2% of the city’s street miles can be deemed “high-injury corridors” since they see more than half of pedestrian injuries and deaths.

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On New Year’s Eve, people bid the old year farewell and welcome the new year with hope and anticipation. It’s safe to say, however, that few are aware of the new laws that await them come New Year’s Day. And the latest spate of new laws in 2014 has San Francisco personal injury attorney Gregory J. Brod particularly interested in three that will impact motorists and, potentially, the safety of their passengers and those who cross the path of motorists.

New Mandates in Force for Limousines
One of the most notable new laws taking effect Jan. 1, SB 109, directly pertains to the safety of motor vehicle passengers, or more specifically, the passengers of limousines. The bill, according to the Sacramento Bee, will require drivers of limousines to provide safety feature instructions to passengers. The measure also mandates that limousines have at least two doors and at least one push-out window that would function as a safety exit starting in either July of 2015 or 2016, depending on whether the limo is a new model or older one that requires retrofitting.

The impetus for the new requirements for limousines came from a pair of horrific limousine fires in 2013, including one May 4 on the San Mateo Bridge that trapped nine members of a wedding party, killing the bride and four others. The California Highway Patrol later concluded that the deadly fire on the limousine was due to a mechanical problem.

It has been well documented that texting and driving can be a dangerous combination, and there is already a prohibition against the practice on the books in California. However, another bill that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law taking effect this year, SB 194, addresses the issue of driving and texting from a hands-free device. The measure prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using their cellphones to compose or read text messages, regardless of whether the device involved uses a voice-activated feature.

Buffer Zone Required Between Motorists and Bicyclists
But perhaps the most interesting new law for 2014 that deals with roadway safety has potentially major ramifications for the interaction between motorists and bicyclists. The new law requires that motorists provide three feet of space between themselves and bicyclists when they attempt to pass a bicyclist. According to USA Today, the new measure specifies that under such circumstances the motorist must slow down and pass “when no danger is present to the bicyclist.”

The buffer-zone-for-bicyclists law actually will not take effect until Sept. 16, which will give the Department of Motor Vehicles time to update handbooks and educate drivers on the law. But the new law probably can’t come soon enough for bicyclists, particularly in the Bay Area, a region that had several high-profile fatal collisions between motorists and bicyclists in 2013.

It will be interesting to see how the new law mandating a buffer zone between motorists and bicyclists is enforced and if the law has other unforeseen consequences on traffic in congested cities such as San Francisco.
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Statistics compiled by the National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Administration tell us that 677 bicycle riders were killed in the U.S. during 2011, 114 of them in California. These tragedies have led to many to consider how we can keep cyclists safer on the road. Some efforts come from municipal leaders, such as the move by the Davis city council that we wrote about earlier this week to enforce laws aimed at keeping cyclists and other travelers safe. Other efforts come from individuals, such as the work of a young woman in England to use technology to help prevent bicycle accidents. While television advertisements often focus on automotive safety technology, less attention has been paid to using technology to improve bicycle safety and our San Francisco bicycle accident law firm applauds this effort to do so.

bikeghost.jpg Vehicles Turning, Colliding with Bicycle Riders

According to CNN, Emily Brooke knew the problem she hoped to tackle as a physics student at the U.K.’s Brighton University. Brooke knew that the number of bicycle riders was on the rise in Europe, much like it is in the United States, with an increasing number of people using bicycles for their regular commuting needs. In an interview, she cites the fact that more than 3,000 cyclists had been killed or seriously injured in Britain last year with more than one hundred rider fatalities in London alone. More specifically, Brooke learned that 79% of accidents involving a rider hit by a driver occurred when the bicycle was travelling straight and the driver made a turn and collided with the bicyclist, with the driver usually reporting that he had not seen the rider.

There seems to be a constant tension between travelers who choose different modes of transportation. Pedestrians complain about bicycles, bicyclists rant about drivers, drivers criticize pedestrians. In order to quell tensions, it is important to remember that every traveler is responsible for following applicable rules of the road and keeping everyone safe. When we talk about bicycle accidents, we are often dealing with a driver who injured a cyclist. However, bicyclists have responsibilities too and they can be the ones who caused an injury such as when a rider hits a pedestrian or when a cyclist’s actions cause a driver to swerve into another car. Our Sacramento injury lawyer believes in efforts to improve bicycle safety and also believes in holding all travelers, regardless of mode of travel, responsible when their actions leave someone else injured.

A “Bike Mecca”

In the course of a Sacramento Bee piece, the reporter refers to “the bike mecca of Davis,” cites the statistic that Davis has the most bicycles per capita of any city in the United States, and notes that the UC Davis campus alone is home to an estimated 20,000 bicycles. These details give weight to the article’s discussion of safety efforts and the fact that cyclists in Davis have a reputation for ignoring safety laws and regulations. City police officers have been described, by the police office itself, as hesitant to cite cyclists for violations out of fear of animosity from the community and those who see the fines as excessive. Students at UC Davis have been particularly vocal about finding fines too severe, although getting fined requires being caught first. The Davis community has had a lax attitude when it comes to bicycle laws, with cyclists often adopting a “they can’t catch all of us” mentality.

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The August 14 fatal collision between a bicycle and a truck in San Francisco that resulted in the bicyclist’s death is still fresh in the minds of Bay Area residents as well as in the thoughts of San Francisco bicycle accident attorney Greg Brod. However, with the back-to-school season upon us, the region is entering a potentially dangerous period for younger bicyclists, who are among the most vulnerable members of our society.

The tragic crash at the intersection of Sixth and Folsom streets in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood took the life of 24-year-old Amelie Le Moullac, who died when a truck hit her while making a turn. The female bicyclist was riding in the bike lane when the truck struck her, and she succumbed to her injuries and was later pronounced dead at San Francisco General Hospital. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, it wasn’t until Monday that the San Francisco Police Department agreed to expedite the release of a copy of the police report on the collision to the Le Moullac family.

As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most up-to-date statistics reveal, bicyclists even younger than Le Moullac are the highest risk group for injuries in traffic crashes. While the 45-54 age group of bicyclists accounted for the highest number of those of killed in traffic collisions in 2011, the 16-20 age group of bicyclists registered the highest number of injuries resulting from traffic crashes for that year. Indeed, just as NHTSA statistics showed that the majority of bicyclists killed or injured in 2011 were males – 85 percent and 78 percent, respectively – within injuries alone, the largest single group of the 38,000 male bicyclists injured in 2011 were the 6,000 in the 16-20 age category. By far, the highest injury rate per million in the population of both males and females, 380 per million, was registered by 16- to 20-year-old bicyclists involved in a traffic collision in 2011.

While on their way to and from school or college, teenagers often choose to ride their bicycles, especially in a state with an ingrained bicycle culture such as California. As NHTSA statistics further reveal, it was precisely during the period when students are most likely to be returning home from class, during the 4 p.m. to 7:59 p.m. period, that largest percentage of bicyclists were killed in traffic collisions in both 2010 and 2011, at 28 percent and 30 percent, respectively. In 2010 and 2011 the 8 a.m. to 11:59 a.m. period (13 percent and 14 percent, respectively) and the noon to 3:59 p.m. time slot (17 percent and 18 percent, respectively) – when students are most likely to be on their way to school – also accounted for large shares of bicyclist fatalities from traffic collisions.
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