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Articles Posted in Bicycle Accidents

Bicycle accidents in California. Legal causes of bike mishaps. Cyclists rules of the road. Legal rights of bike riders in Los Angeles and throughout CA.

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In California, cities have immunity when people are injured while using paved or unpaved trails because of the design or location of the trail. The immunity does not apply when the injuries are caused by a dangerous condition that is unrelated to the trail, however. In Reed v. City of Los Angeles, Cal. Ct. App., Case No. B294531, the courts considered whether a badminton rope stretched across a bicycle trail was an unrelated dangerous condition or could have caused injuries to people regardless of whether they were using the trail.[1]

Factual and procedural background

On Sept. 12, 2015, Sells Reed III was riding his bicycle at 5:30 a.m. on a paved path that was adjacent to some sports fields in MacArthur Park in Los Angeles. Some people who were not connected to the City of Los Angeles had stretched a rope of a badminton net across the path. Reed did not see the rope and struck it, causing him to fall backward from his bicycle and to suffer multiple injuries. He filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles, alleging that the city had constructive notice of the existence of a dangerous condition on public property or that the city’s public employees were negligent in the performance of their jobs, resulting in his injuries.

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los-angeles-bike-pedestrian-accident-attorneysCountries and cities around the world have started Vision Zero initiatives to eliminate all traffic fatalities. In 2015, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti started the city’s Vision Zero initiative to work toward the elimination of all traffic deaths by 2025. Unfortunately, data demonstrates that traffic fatalities have continued to rise despite the initiative. There are several reasons why the traffic fatality rates show no signs of slowing, including poor infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians, distracted driving, and traffic congestion on the city’s streets and roadways.

Statistics

According to data released by Vision Zero and reported by the Los Angeles Times, 244 people died in traffic accidents in Los Angeles in 2019. While this represents a slight decrease of 0.8% from 2018, the statistics about pedestrian and cyclist deaths are more troubling. Since the start of Vision Zero in 2015 in the city, the total number of traffic fatalities has increased by 33%. Pedestrians represent a small percentage of accidents that occurred at 8%. However, they represent 44% of the fatalities that happened over the five years since the start of Vision Zero. In 2019, pedestrians represented 55% of the traffic fatalities that happened in Los Angeles.

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Los-Angeles-Bicycle-AccidentsLos Angeles should be one of the best cities to ride bicycles in the U.S. With its balmy weather, year-round warmth, sunshine, and spectacular views, bicyclists should be able to enjoy riding their bicycles for recreation and transportation. The streets are very congested, making bicycling a good option for getting to your destination faster than you might if you drove your car. While these factors should make Los Angeles ideal for bicycle riding, it is instead the most dangerous city in America for people to ride their bicycles. The dangers to cyclists in Los Angeles result from several different factors that the city needs to address.

Statistics

From 2014 to 2016, 180 bicyclists were killed in Los Angeles, and many others were seriously injured. The city had more bicycle fatalities than any other city in the U.S. It also surpassed the bicycle fatality rates of every state other than California, Florida, and New York.[1] The high number of fatalities results from several factors, including congestion, a lack of bicycle infrastructure, poor road maintenance, and failures to act by politicians.

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Los-Angeles-Bike-Accident-LawyerWhy do urban areas like Los Angeles CA have so many bicycle accidents? While there has been a large push in cities around the world to encourage cycling, some major urban areas, including Los Angeles, have entrenched safety problems for cyclists. In 2018, Bicycling Magazine named Los Angeles as the worst city in the U.S. for bicyclists and reported that Los Angeles County had more cyclist deaths than all but three states as a whole during the three years from 2014 to 2016. While the city has engaged in efforts to reduce bicycle and other traffic fatalities, the data demonstrates that more needs to be done.

The problem of bicycle fatalities in Los Angeles

Los Angeles has attempted to address the problems of bicycle safety by devoting additional funds to safety projects such as road diets. Despite these efforts, however, cycling fatalities have increased. In 2018, for example, preliminary data for Los Angeles shows that 21 cyclists were killed in accidents with motor vehicles, which was an increase from the 17 who were killed in 2015 at the beginning of the Vision Zero initiative.

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child-bike-accidentsPeople who lose loved ones in accidents that are caused by the negligence of others have the right to file wrongful death lawsuits against the responsible parties. When they are unable to reach a settlement agreement, they can go to jury trials. In Hernandez v. First Student, Inc., Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B281161, the parents of a 13-year-old boy who was killed while riding his bicycle went to trial. However, they did not secure the outcome that they wanted and filed an appeal. The case demonstrates the importance of making timely objections during a trial to preserve the record on appeal. If an attorney fails to make objections at the proper time, the arguments may be forfeited on appeal.

Factual and procedural background

On May 2, 2013, 13-year-old Jonathan Hernandez was riding his bicycle on a sidewalk. He entered into the street without stopping, and he was struck by a school bus. The bus was being driven by Barbara Calderon and was owned by First Student. At the time, Calderon was returning the bus to the school after completing her route. Michael Kennedy was an aide who was also on the school bus at the time.

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fake-bike-helmets-injuryCycling is a great way for people to exercise, enjoy some scenery or commute to their jobs in California. More Californians are turning to bicycles as an alternative form of transportation because of a desire to help to protect the environment while enjoying the health benefits of cycling. When bicycle riders share the roads with motor vehicles, they have a higher risk of suffering serious injuries or being killed in accidents because they have little protection from the forces of collisions.

Wearing bicycle helmets every time that cyclists ride their bicycles can help to protect them from severe injuries when they are thrown from their bicycles or struck in the head in accidents. Unfortunately, however, cyclists must be careful when they purchase bicycle helmets. According to a report in NPR, counterfeit bicycle helmets that do not meet U.S. safety standards are flooding the market via the internet.

Why counterfeit helmets are dangerous

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Despite Mayor Eric Garcetti’s ambitious Vision Zero program, which he launched in August 2015 in a drive to reduce traffic fatalities to zero by the year 2025, bicycle and pedestrian fatalities in Los Angeles have increased. In 2017, 245 people were killed in traffic accidents in the city, and 60 percent of the people who died were walking or riding bicycles at the time of their collisions. This was almost twice the number of people who were killed in traffic accidents in the city in 2016, underscoring the need for further attention. A group of cyclists has become politically active in an effort to get better safety measures in place.

Frederick Frazier accident

In April 2018, Frederick Frazier, a 22-year-old man, went for a ride on his bicycle. Frazier turned onto the far right-hand side of Manchester Boulevard. He was riding his bicycle between the cars that were parked along the right side of the road and the traffic when a white Porsche sped up behind him. Instead of slowing, the Porsche increased its speed behind him as was revealed by a video of the traffic. The Porsche struck Frazier and his bicycle hard enough that the force of the crash broke his bicycle in half. The Porsche’s driver did not stop and instead drove away, leaving Frazier to die in the street. Frazier’s hit-and-run accident was the first one of four that would occur over the next six days. It also was the type of bicycle collision that we have previously highlighted as being among the most dangerous. Cyclists are often struck when they turn right onto busy surface roads such as Manchester.

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bike-helmet-injury-preventionDo mandatory bike helmet laws reduce injuries?  When bicyclists are involved in accidents in California, they are much likelier to suffer from severe brain trauma and head injuries than are motor vehicle occupants. Without helmets, cyclists do not have protection from the environment around them when they strike their heads in accidents. This leaves them with a greater risk of suffering from serious injuries or dying in collisions with motor vehicles.

While California has a law mandating that bicyclists under a certain age wear helmets whenever they ride bicycles, it does not mandate that adult cyclists wear helmets. There are proponents and opponents of mandatory bicycle helmet legislation, and both sides have a number of valid points to consider. Regardless of what the law is, bicycle helmets are important safety equipment that Los Angeles personal injury attorneys believe that all cyclists should use every time that they ride their bicycles. Helmets provide the remaining line of defense to suffering from serious brain injuries when people are struck by vehicles or when they have other types of cycling accidents.

California’s bicycle helmet law

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