Riding a bicycle through Los Angeles helps lower carbon emissions, keeps additional cars off the road to alleviate the famous traffic, and is a great form of cardio for heart health and weight loss; however, statistics show that cycling may not be as safe as we all want and envision. On July 2, a Los Angeles cyclist was riding on Mulholland Highway when he was unexpectedly struck from the rear by a sheriff deputy’s cruiser. Unfortunately, he is another in a long list of bicycle accidents that have been increasing in frequency. As a matter of fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, bicycle deaths increased 10% last year, marking the highest year since 1988. Conversely, automobile deaths have reduced by 1% – meaning that bicyclists are in greater danger because while cars have gotten safer, bicycles don’t have any additional safety designs added.
In the case of a bicycle accident, drivers in cars are protected by the exterior design as well as interior measures including airbags and seatbelts. Bicyclists, conversely, at best, have a helmet and pads. These safety measures for cyclists pale in comparison to cars and the damages are far great to the rider in the event of a collision.
The impact from a car and the subsequent crash into the ground, or other objects such as a tree or down a hill, impart a massive amount of damage. As such, riders are forced to be hyper-vigilant, but as we’ve seen, that cannot ensure a safe ride. Drivers, on the other hand, often become distracted and cruise along – in these moments are when many bicycle accidents occur. No matter how attentive a rider is, they cannot protect themselves against a driver who doesn’t see them.
To combat distracted driving and lack of visibility, some car manufacturers are implementing additional cameras and pedestrian warnings, but bicycle detection is lacking across the board. Until the technology is implemented across all vehicle models, it is on drivers to be more attentive while driving and not to be distracted by screens as the sheriff deputy was in the fatal collision on Mulholland Highway.
Unfortunately, the brunt of the burden falls on cyclists to somehow be even more vigilant. As a precaution, always make sure to wear reflective gear and have reflectors on the front, back, and pedals of your bike, especially at night. Additionally, stay as far to the right of the road as possible if there is no dedicated bike lane to ride in. You can’t eliminate bicycle accidents from occurring, but you can do your best to mitigate the odds of being in one.
Thankfully, car manufacturers are driven to improve safety for those outside of their vehicles; the downside is that the technology isn’t quite readily available – yet. The day will come where cyclist and pedestrian deaths are a worry of the past and you can ride across Los Angeles without fear of being in a bicycle accident. Until that day, stay safe and if you have been in a bicycle accident, give us a call to understand your rights and how best to legally protect yourself.