Los Angeles is famous for many things. Our LA bicycle law blawg covers the latest bicycle laws, news, and events in the City of Angeles and Greater Los Angeles. Below we also include statistics and other proprietary data we curated to help riders and their families understand their rights, duties, and obligations while sharing the roads.
Above photo shows a distracted car driver on a cell phone.
Recent years the national traffic data has shown an increase in bicyclist and pedestrian deaths caused by distracted driving, while other traffic-related deaths have decreased.
There were approximately 130 more people killed during 2011 in pedestrian-related deaths, than in 2010, which is a 3% increase. In this same year, the end of bicycle riders also increased at a rate of 8% or 54 individuals, at the same time other motor vehicle deaths were decreasing.
What is the Public Health Data on Bike Accidents?.
The data during recent years did not fully explain the reasons for the rising deaths of pedestrians or bicyclists. At the same time, the media focused on issues such as distracted walking or being under the influence while walking. In the Public Health Reports, a journal by the U.S. Public Health Service and the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General revealed a new study.
Media Versus Reality. Compare and Contrast.
In this study, the increase in these types of fatalities does not go along with what the media has focused on reporting. Instead, the data shows distracted driving is responsible for this increase in deaths — such things like texting while driving is to blame.
Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center used the Fatality Analysis Reporting System to study the data of fatal collisions. The information basis comes from the years 2005 through 2010. The study found a sharp increase in pedestrian and bicyclists deaths during these years. In fact, distracted driving was a factor in these collisions.
The numbers of fatalities during these years went from 2005 with 344 deaths to 2010 with 500 deaths. Above all else, distracted driving remained listed as a cause.
Bicycle deaths during that period rose from 56 to 73 casualties.
Combined pedestrian and bike rider fatalities accounted for about one in ten traffic deaths.
Cell phone use was a leading cause of 18.6%.
But other reasons for distraction were listed.
These included changing radio stations.
In fact, even tending to a child or eating while driving remained causes.
According to one researcher, Fernando Wilson, the biggest problem is that pedestrians and bicyclists do not have protection in a collision with a motor vehicle. For example, in a car, you have a safety cage and bumpers.
Wilson is one of the study’s authors and a professor at the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He believes non-motorized and motorized forms of travel, such as bike lanes will reduce the increase in deaths.
Duluth, GA, USA - August 2, 2014: A male cyclist wearing a Go Pro helmet cam races down a Duluth street as he competes in the Georgia Cup Criterium event.
Are you someone who has a bicycle and who likes to ride it often? If you do, then you must be aware of the many dangers of riding a bike. Bike riders are the most vulnerable people on the road. And this is because even the slightest hit from a motor vehicle can push them off the road and injure them severely.
While not every accident is a fatal one, most do result in severe injuries. The drivers of motor vehicles are safe in their metal cages. And too often they don’t pay much attention to bicycle riders.
If you ride a bike frequently, you need to take measures to ensure your safety. Wearing pads on the legs and elbows along with a helmet is the best you can do when riding a bicycle. Even with that equipment, you will not be the safest one on the road.
A camera on your bicycle helmet is something you should use for several reasons. This gadget can save you from many scenarios. For example, what if a car driver is trying to prove you as the negligent party. And what if this remains true despite the fact he was at wrong in that particular situation.
A Recent Incident Where Helmet Camera Inadvertently Saved The Cyclist
As noted in the above helmet camera video, Alan Crocker was collected by the camera on his bicycle helmet. When he was riding, a pickup truck driven by "Johnny" passed him carefully.
Noticing the danger, he flipped on his helmet cam. The truck driver once again came close to Crocker’s bicycle and dodged him from a very close distance. So he was trying to drain his anger in this way, even when he was wrong.
The name of the truck driver was Johnny. Putting Crocker to test by passing by him from a very close distance in his motor vehicle was not enough for Johnny. So he pulled over his truck a few meters ahead. When Crocker reached that point, Johnny grabbed him and started to beat him down.
As soon as the police arrived at the scene, Johnny had made up his mind that he would get Crocker in trouble. He told the cops that Crocker was the one trying to harass him in his truck. So the police were going to take action against Crocker.
That’s when Crocker showed police the camera footage on his bicycle’s helmet. Police had seen the truth. So Johnny was jailed for his actions. We can already see how difficult it could have become for Crocker to prove his innocence if he had no camera on his bicycle helmet.
Thousands of such incidents take place in the country every year. A helmet camera is essential for them too.
Other Ways Head Cams Can Protect.
A smart provider or wage earner should always be aware that his or her absence from being the breadwinner due to injury or death, can put the entire household in the poorhouse. Helmet cams can help find hit and run drivers. Also, it helps determine fault if hit or run over by a car or another object or person, etc.
Using direct evidence like this, subject to authentication, can mean the difference between leaving your family destitute. Or it could leave them in the same position economically they would have been had the accident not occurred.
Of course, the defendant would argue that this is of little probative value. Or it could be this evidence is unduly prejudicial. But most courts would probably allow this type of proof into play to prove things like notice, control, and to lead to other evidence that is admissible, etc.
Three Feet For Safety Act And Camera.
The California Vehicle Code was just updated. Now motor vehicle drivers must maintain a distance of at least 3 feet from the bicyclists when passing. According to the new enactment, the motor vehicles have to slow down before moving bicycles if it was impossible for them to maintain the safe distance of 3 feet. If you are involved in an accident where the motor vehicle driver did not keep this distance your helmet camera is the only way to prove your point.
How Serious Can Bicycle Accidents Get?
As discussed above, bicycle riders remain unsafe among the flood of vehicles on the roads. Forty-eight thousand bicycle riders got injured in 2011. Not to mention the 700 who lost their lives in these accidents. We are talking about a vehicle that does not have any engine. But the facts are:
If the bicycle rider receives injuries in his spinal cord, he could become paralyzed forever. The only way for this person to move about would then be to use wheelchairs and other similar equipment – a saddening change of lifestyle.
If brain injuries happen, the rider could lose his life. Trauma and disabilities are other consequences.
If the accident has resulted in broken bones, then the bicycle rider will have to stay in the hospital for a long time. He has to spend an extended period in the bed, and during this time he won’t be able to work. He will lose his income and have to incur substantial medical costs from the hospital.
If a limb is lost, the person will go through immense mental stress. And the use of prosthetics will require a lot of money and training as well.
Spine and lower body injuries could affect the marital life of a person and loss of companionship might be depressing.
Such injuries translate to enormous medical costs. And they go from the pocket of the bicycle rider if he does not seek help from a personal injury lawyer. How else can you get paid if you don't pursue a settlement from the negligent party?
The Costs That Bicycle Rider Will Have To Bear
Stays in hospitals can be extremely expensive. Even if you have a sound healthcare policy, you could quickly end up with vast mountains of debts. Of course, this depends on your injuries.
But the treatment costs of brain and spine injuries are extortionate. Paralysis and loss of limbs could result in the permanent need for medical care. Such medical care for life is expensive.
Here is a list of damages a bicycle rider could incur after a motor vehicle accident.
The cost of hospital stays.
Fees of doctors and surgeons.
Costs of special procedures and therapies.
Permanent medical care costs.
Loss of income.
Costs of rehabilitation.
Loss of quality of life.
Loss of companionship etc.
Look For The Best Lawyers
Look for help from a lawyer as soon as an accident takes place. Make sure to get in touch with experienced lawyers only. Free first consultations and contingency fee plans can help you initiate the legal process. If you live in Los Angeles and need relentless representation for your case, go for Ehline Law Firm. Let these experienced lawyers arrange a settlement that covers every single penny from your pocket and more.
ABA Journal Article -"Bicyclist's helmet cam video persuades a police officer to ticket driver in a road-rage incident" (Source.)
Man fallen from his bike
Bicycling in California can be sheer pleasure. The high topography and weather year-round have made the Golden State one of the premier biking regions. Bicyclists from across the country come to the state to compete or ride around for fun. With the many bikers from and around the state, there are many actions that the state legislature has done intended to make the roads safer.
There were 124 bicycle fatalities on California's roads in 2012 according to the state Office of Traffic Safety. This figure is higher than 2011's value. And in turn, this was higher than in 2010. The increase led to the state doing multiple things to try and protect riders on the road.
CVC Section 21760.
One of the chief parts of legislation was CVC Section 21760, the Three Feet for Safety Act. The act, which became effective in September 2014 according to the DMV's website, causes drivers to give bicyclists at least three feet distance when passing.
When violated, drivers must pay a $35 fine and if a collision is involved, the fee increases to $220. Coupled with administrative fees and local penalties, the real price paid by drivers can be significantly higher.
With the high number of cars on the roads, riding a bike must always come with particular cognizance of who or what is on the way. Many parts of the state are extremely bicycle friendly and others, like the Los Angeles area, are not. Because of this, it can be more challenging to ride in traffic. No matter what the case, pay attention remains vital to your surroundings and ensuring your safety.
If you have any questions about this law and how it could affect you or about bicycle law, Los Angeles' premier personal injury and bike accident attorney Michael Ehline stands to help. Ehline Law has helped many clients that have had issues with bikes.
Our team of experts will be able to assist you and get you back on your feet -- both literally and figuratively. Call or email us today for a free consultation.
BMW runs over a bicycle with training wheels.
Riding bikes has been popular for a long time and is becoming a more accessible outdoor sport in the U.S. since it has cardiovascular health benefits. Riding has definite advantages, but there is also risk involved when riding on public roadways and trails where motor vehicles are in the same vicinity. Bicycle-motor vehicle accidents are not uncommon.
Accidents on the roadway happen daily, and being a bicyclist sharing the roads can increase the risk of danger. They are implementing these safety tips while riding will reduce injuries. When security measures fail, victims must obtain immediate and proper legal advice. The reputable law firm of Ehline Law Firm specializes in bicycle-related mishaps and is one phone call away.
What is the Bicycle Safety Stats?
One of the most common types of bicycle incidents involving adults are:
When the front of the vehicle strikes the bike head-on, and,
The less obvious scenario is with cars in reverse. In that case, the car the rider is unceremoniously run over while the vehicle is backing up. So this happens to children more than adults. Also, it is most common when vehicles back out of driveways.
Below are some methods to reduce the risk collisions.
Wearing a helmet and other protective gear can help avoid injury.
Installing a headlight on the bicycle and having one on the helmet. The bike headlight is best when it has a bright light with a flashing mode. Law does not require bicycle headlights. But these items can increase safety in low visibility or at night. Having a headlamp on the helmet can also decrease risks. This light helps because it also makes the rider more visible to motor vehicle drivers.
Bicycle horns or waving to a driver to make eye contact. This eye contact helps prevent accidents from happening where the driver reports they did not see the bicycle rider until it was too late.
Always ride in a bicycle lane or surface road when possible. By doing this, drivers can more easily spot the bicycle. And that makes it easier to keep a safe distance between the passing vehicle and rider. Moving to the left as far as possible makes it easier to avoid collisions with motor vehicles.
What are Some Crosswalk Dangers?
Other than the common pathway, or parkway, crosswalks are a hazardous area for bicyclists. And this remains one of the most common types of bicycle collisions Ehline Law Firm has seen.
What are Some Tips to Reduce Cross Walk Risks?
When going through a crosswalk, come to a complete stop. Then get off your bike and walk. It is a crosswalk, not a cross-ride. Get it? Also, this allows the rider to observe traffic for drivers making a turn or a motorist that may travel through the crosswalk without watching the pedestrian’s right-of-way.
Use the bicycle headlight to be more noticeable when riding at dusk, at night, or on days with poor visibility conditions.
What About Sidewalks and Parking Lot Dangers to Riders?
Avoid riding a bicycle on sidewalks, which may appear to be safer than riding on a roadway. It is a sidewalk for a reason. In fact, in most cities, riding on the sidewalk remains illegal. Also, it puts the rider at higher risk.
Vehicles can pull or back out of driveways. And cars parked on the street can open doors that can hit the bicyclist. Or they may create an obstruction that must be maneuvered around quickly. Riding a bicycle in a parking lot is hazardous for the rider. This hazard is because vehicles pulling in and out of the area may not see the bike or rider in time to avoid a collision.
The bicyclist often does not have a way to maneuver the bike to prevent the accident. Plus, garage floors are notoriously slippery for skinny bike rims and tires. In some instances, the bicyclist may be able to maneuver out of the path of the vehicle. But in doing so, the rider may be struck by another motorist. In this case, it remains possible that both drivers may be held responsible. But the driver that created the dangerous circumstances should be held accountable.
Staying safe while riding is getting more difficult is no easy task. Higher fuel costs are leading to more cyclists occupying the limited space available to regular riders and enthusiasts alike. Following these essential tips can help mitigate the risks of suffering at the hands of another.
The Pain of a Parent?
I have two kids and live less than a mile from the terrible scene. As a parent and a lawyer, I want to address these rearview mirrors on buses. I contend that these commercially sized side view mirrors cause countless deaths to pedestrians and cyclists. The end of an innocent 13-year-old is a terrible event.
The same happened in Redondo Beach last week in an avoidable incident. The event included a city Metro bus. But it ended up leaving a massive hole for the girl's parents. NBC Los Angeles reported on the tragedy. The accident happened near the Pacific Coast Highway and Knob Hill Avenue, Redondo Beach. Ciara Smith of Parras Middle School was the unfortunate victim. She and a friend rode nearby when one was struck and killed by a Metro bus.
The police state she was in the number two bus line. It is unclear if she was crossing the street or accidentally entered the road. The horrible tragedy is a grim reminder for every parent.
Below is a video of the aftermath of the incident:
CBS Los Angeles reported on the aftermath in Ciara's school. Many students came out to mourn her death. Some dressed in bright colors-- her favorite-- and others wrote her name in memorial. If you're interested in helping, here is the GoFundMe page set up helping her family.
What Action to Take to Avoid Further Tragedy?
As a parent and resident of Redondo Beach, I feel a special obligation to prevent such tragedies from happening again. There is something that each one of us can do. Also, it is our chance of honoring Ciara's legacy. This event occurred right near my house-- I have children that deserve protection. We must do so.
There are many factors to consider in this event:
Was there proper signage and lighting in and around this area? Furthermore, was it evident that the area where she was hit was a bus lane?
Was there an appropriate bike lane in the area?
Besides, was the driver under the influence? Were all of his licenses up to date?
Are the bus side view mirrors safe for the smaller lames of Redondo Beach?
These and other questions are vital. They establish a baseline for concerned parents and citizens. All residents worried about what happened to have an opportunity to make it right. Furthermore, we prepare for a safer greater Los Angeles area.
We here at the Ehline Law Firm will do everything we can to avoid these types of events. Join our cause.
Women are driving and texting, not paying attention, and about to hit a man on a bicycle.
Thanks for stopping by. First, let us introduce our lead counsel. Michael Ehline. Since 2005, he has actively led Ehline Law Firm in aiding victims of bicycle accidents.
Bicycling is a common form of the portage, amusement, and fitness from one end to the other in California State. But bicycles afford minimal protection from the day to day perils facing bicyclists on the roadways of the Golden State. Riding bikes can, and often do pave the way to moderate injuries to riders on the small range. But it also leads to death and tragedy on a large scale.
Are Children More at Risk From Bicycle Accidents?
Yes. Catastrophic injuries to bicyclists from roadway accidents are tragically higher among kids. School-aged children face significant risks due to their smaller height. Because of this, they are less visible to a distracted driver.
Victims of bicycle smash-ups face unique challenges. Notably, this remains the case both medically and legally. As they convalesce, they also seek payment from the person(s) who caused their injuries. Plus, due to the laws of California and local municipal codes, their legal representatives must have specialized training and experience. Skills must include knowledge of the duties, rights, and obligations of bicyclists throughout the state.
What are the Types of Fact Patterns Most Often Arising Bicycle Accidents?
The vast majority of bicycle accident claims Ehline Law faces comprise of fact patterns where there is contact between riders and passengers. Others involve drivers guilty of failing to yield the right-of-way at an intersection.
For example, cyclists can get cut off due to an un-telegraphed turn by a vehicle directly into the path of an oncoming bicyclist.
Poor Judgment By Car Drivers.
Typically car drivers misjudge the speed of the bike or do not see the motorcycle. So they overestimate the safe space they should allocate for safe passage. Often, motorists fail to share the road equitably. On other occasions, a large vehicle like a bus or truck is not paying attention to smaller objects like bikes.
What About the Blind Spots of Big Rigs and Bicycle Accidents?
In particular, larger vehicles can kill anything that remains unseen in their blind spots. This failure to see the bike has forced many a rider into a curb, or onto a sidewalk, or fixed object, and to their doom as the truck turns right at a signal, for example. This visibility issue is a massive danger to passengers. So we advise riders to avoid buses and big rigs like the plague.
What are the Forces In Bicycle Wrecks?
Bicycle mishaps can be due to other forces. And many of them remain particular to the utilization of this unique machine for transportation. Bicycle accidents may become exacerbated by coincidental factors. These include poorly designed roads, negligent repair, signage, or maintenance.
These factors often lead to a limited or severely impaired vision of the poor road and path conditions. Other adverse conditions riders face things like loose gravel, trash, oil spills, potholes, and other road debris. Riders make easy targets for free dogs, and many a fallen rider has fallen victim to packs of dogs pulling them down and tearing them to pieces.
One of the atypical twists facing California riders occurs after an unreasonable motorist negligently opens their car door into the path of a bicycle rider. Another stroke of bad luck common in the major cities like Los Angeles are people on foot getting slammed by bicycle delivery riders. Examples include process servers, legal messengers, and food delivery services. These service businesses hire out bike riders for tasks.
Other Facts About Rider Injuries.
In California, bicycle riders are subject to the same obligations and restrictions as cars, except where expressly provided for by law, such as bicycle lanes. Some municipalities allow bikers to ride on the sidewalk, such as parts of Los Angeles. L.A. County may also allow sidewalk riding, subject to the restrictions laid out in the Vehicle Code here, and County Code here.
But as discussed, riders need to obey the rules of the road just like operators of all other traditional motorized conveyances. (See safety tips here). But there is no rule requiring a cyclist to have liability insurance.
Bicyclists under age 18, are also subject to helmet laws codified in California Vehicle Code §21212. In California, children under four-year-old, or weighing 40 pounds or less, remain prohibited from being passengers on bicycles.
But they can ride if in a seat which holds the child in place. No matter what, it must protect the youngster from moving parts. The child must also wear an approved helmet. (Source C.H.P. "Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents.").
But helmets are not designed to stop all injuries. Rider awareness is the key to staying safe. Speeds and impacts of 15 to 20 miles per hour or under, may allow a helmet to lessen or prevent serious head injuries. But that isn't always true. And it does next to nothing at higher speeds.
Are helmets a Mere Implement not a Guarantee of No Head Injury?
It is just a safety implement, not a guarantee or insurer of safety. Bicycle helmets are tested in 2-meter drops under U.S. benchmarks. In fact, they travel at drops of approximately 14 miles per hour (or 22.5 kph) on a flat, anvil.
However, the New England Journal of Medicine said in a famous piece that individuals wearing a bicycle helmet had at least an 85% lessened chance of a severe head injury. It says there was an 88% reduced chance of brain injuries. (See also, "A Case-Control Study of the Effectiveness of Bicycle Safety Helmets," Robert S. Thompson, M.D., Frederick P. Rivara, M.D., M.P.H., and Diane C. Thompson, M.S. N Engl J Med 1989; 320:1361-1367, May 25, 1989).
The experts have concluded that inconsequential skull and brain housing group injuries, typically arise from linear acceleration. Linear acceleration occurs when the head impacts with another physical barrier to free movement. Wearing a bicycle helmet helps prevent and mitigate severe or traumatic head injury. This mitigation is because a helmet can reduce of spread the inertia through the device.
What is Rotational Acceleration?
Alternatively, more significant, and more devastating types of harm, typically arise from angular as well as rotational acceleration. This rotation can result in a diffuse axonal injury (DAI) or even subdural hematoma (SDH). Above are the standard head injuries afflicted upon unfortunate riders. And these have been known to set the stage for the loss of life upon spill victims.
Bicycle helmets are not engineered to reduce rotational injury. And the available scientific research does not look promising in a helmet's safety capacity improving anytime soon. (See also "Curnow WJ. The efficacy of bicycle helmets against brain injury." Accident Analysis and Prevention, 2003,35:287-292.)
Ehline Law Firm is a legal advocate. And its attorneys are also riders of all types of cycles. We put ourselves in the shoes of victims, and we feel their pain. When victims become our clients, they can take pleasure in the confidence they have that we are fighting for them. We go the extra mile to get them a comprehensive financial recovery.
Can You Get Windfall Results in a Bicycle Wreck Case?
Maybe! We fight for the windfall like results that's for sure. Mostly, we do this by putting fear in the hearts of the opposition by showing them we are the real deal. But we hire the right experts, investigators, and legal researchers to seek out the strengths of your case and the weaknesses in the defendant's case.
Let Ehline meticulously prepare your case for settlement, mediation, and trial. If you or a wage earner are devastated and feeling the pain of severe loss or death from a spill on a bike, call us. Why not get a detailed analysis of your potential injuries claims with a real lawyer? Call now at (213) 596-9642.