Some of the dangers involved with riding bicycles can be attributed to sharing the roads with motor vehicles. Both cyclists and motorists must understand the rules of the road and their responsibilities while riding or driving. To try to curb the number of bicycle accidents and their resulting injuries and fatalities, the California Legislature recently passed a bill that aims to protect bicyclists and decrease the danger that they will be involved in accidents. This law became effective on Jan. 1, 2023. Here’s some information about the new law and its impact on the rights and responsibilities of motorists who share the roads with bicyclists.
While the case is pending in Texas, if a similar incident happened in California, the perpetrator would also likely be charged with serious crimes. In either state, the injured victims would also be entitled to pursue compensation through personal injury claims regardless of the outcome of the criminal case against the defendant. Here is some information about the incident and how it might be handled if it happened in California.
History of CicLAvia
The first CicLAvia festival was held in October 2010. Organizers modeled the event on the regular car-free festivals that are held in Bogota, Colombia each Sunday. More than 100,000 people attended the first CicLAvia festival in 2010, far exceeding the nonprofit’s expectations. The first event featured open streets stretching from East Hollywood to Boyle Heights, drawing many people outdoors to enjoy the open, traffic-free spaces and fresh air.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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
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.