Oakland Bicycle Accident Attorney
Riding a bicycle is not just for children anymore. Increasingly, adults are turning back to this favorite childhood pastime. Whether for a challenging endurance workout, a more environmentally-friendly mode of transportation or simply for fun, increasing numbers of adults are riding bicycles. In more rural areas, cyclists have plenty of mountain paths to explore and relatively empty backroads, but in more urban areas such as Oakland, cyclists often have to share traffic-filled city streets with cars, vans, trucks and large service vehicles. Statistically, while the number of bicycle accidents nationally is declining, the accidents that do occur are often more injurious and even fatal to bicycle riders. In order to protect bicycle riders, many cities have adopted a number of changes to make streets safer for cyclists including traffic easing measures, designated bicycle lanes and even physical medians to separate cyclists from motorists.
In this state, laws governing and protecting cyclists and their bicycles fall mostly under the jurisdiction of the California vehicle code, which also covers passenger and service vehicles. The California Vehicle Code (CVC) more or less treats bicycles as most other vehicles and offers mostly the same protections, stating that bicycle riders are subject to the same rules of the road as motorists, including right-of-way, following the flow of traffic flow and obeying posted traffic signs. Most bicycle riders, however, are required to stay on the right side of the road where there is no designated bicycle lane unless making a turn, and in Oakland, as in many Bay Area cities, riding bicycles over a certain size on sidewalks is prohibited.
Anyone who has tried riding a bicycle down a city street, however, knows that there are noticeable differences between motor vehicles and bicycles in terms of speed, weight, size and the type of protection they offer their owners while in use. A driver in a vehicle is usually much more protected inside their car than a bicyclist with a simple helmet would be, and in the case of an accident involving a cyclist and a driver in a car or truck, the bicycle rider is much more likely to sustain serious injuries. Even when a car or small truck is parked on the side of the street, accidents with cyclists can result in some serious injuries. It is not uncommon for bicycle riders to either be hit with or run into vehicle doors that open suddenly as they are riding. These types of bicycle accidents are so common, in fact, that they have been nicknamed: getting “doored.” While running into an open car door does not sound like such a big deal, but cyclists can and, often do, sustain serious injuries like head trauma, spinal cord injuries, lacerations and broken bones. In the most serious cases, cyclists can get doored, then fall into oncoming traffic on the road, causing traumatic injuries and even death.
Crossing roads at intersections typically pose a danger to bicycle riders and are, indeed, frequently the site of accidents. Motorists turning right at an intersection may not be on the lookout for bicycles moving faster than pedestrians but slower than other motor vehicles. Since bicycle riders are relegated to the right side of the road, a car, truck or service vehicle attempting to make a right turn at an intersection may not see a cyclist coming up on their right. Cyclists have the right of way in these instances, much like a pedestrian would, but motor vehicle drivers too often don’t pay attention to their surroundings. Left turns, as well, often pose a danger to bicycle riders on city streets. Cyclists are allowed to make left turns at intersections, and can use left turn lanes to do just that, but, again, motor vehicle drivers often do not see cyclists since they are much slimmer in profile and often moving slower than other vehicles. Head-on collisions between cyclists and motorists are not uncommon, and, again, typically result in much more severe injuries to bicycle riders not protected by heavy duty steel frames with engineered crumple zones and seat belts.
Driver and cyclist inattention and poor road conditions are also responsible for many bicycle accidents in the Oakland area every year. Motor vehicle drivers are more distracted than ever now that smartphones are the norm. Inasmuch as texting while driving is illegal, thousands of motorists every year still get caught doing it, and it remains an unfortunate factor in many, many bicycle accidents. Bicycle riders are also prone to inattention while riding along city streets. Listening to podcasts and music on earphones often cuts off a cyclist’s ability to hear vehicles coming up behind them in addition to distracting them from fully watching the road around them. The loss of vigilance in watching their surroundings for even a moment can have serious consequences for bicycle riders. Additionally, potholes trip up a surprising number of bicycle riders every year and construction projects can heavily affect the amount and flow of traffic on Oakland city streets, making conditions significantly more dangerous for cyclists.
Injuries sustained during accidents are not the only problem bicycle riders face. In many cases, insurance companies can also prove to be significant obstacles after an accident. In some cases, claims administrators are simply more experienced negotiators than the average person and it is usually part of their job to resolve claims with as little cost to their employers as possible. While an employee doing their job cannot be faulted, this can be an enormous frustration for an injured bicycle rider who may have expensive medical bills to pay and may be missing time at work to recuperate after an accident. With no income in sight, and the cost of medical care on top of normal monthly expenses, settling an insurance claim after an accident becomes an urgent matter.
If you or someone you know has been in an Oakland-area bicycle accident, Mary Alexander & Associates will fight for you. Attorneys at our firm have the knowledge and experience you need on your side to fight for rightful compensation and settle insurance claim disputes.