Recently in Los Angeles, a bicyclist was fatally struck by a semi-truck in a hit and run bicycling accident at night. This story is yet another added to an already unfortunately long list of collisions in Los Angeles and the U.S. at large. Reports indicate that the cyclist was lane splitting and likely lost control of the bike, or was hit by another vehicle, collapsed, and rolled under the truck — he was pronounced dead when police arrived at the scene. To mitigate further and similar tragedies to this story, this is a good opportunity to discuss the dangers and considerations of lane splitting in Los Angeles.
Lane splitting is when a bicyclist or motorcyclist shares the same lane as another vehicle, almost always a car or truck. This action is usually done while passing another vehicle to continue on the same road at a greater speed, or to turn onto a different road. If you have ever driven a car, or ridden in a ride share, you’ve likely seen a motorcyclist lane split and speed past you. It can be a dangerous maneuver for the most skilled of riders, but motorcyclists have an advantage over bicyclists: speed; they are able to accelerate faster to remove themselves from potentially dangerous situations, such as drivers not seeing them.
Which brings us to the next point: visibility. As mentioned in a previous post, bicyclists need to ensure that they are visible, especially at night. Per the reports of the incident, the truck driver continued driving as if nothing happened – many suspect that he did not see the rider, nor did he know that he hit him. Given the size difference between the vehicles, this isn’t out of the realm of possibilities; the cyclist likely rode in the blind spot of the truck seconds before the accident occurred. There is no evidence of this being the case, but if he was lane splitting, he likely was not visible in the side mirrors of the truck. It is legally required that bicycles have a headlight and taillight; we also strongly recommend a reflective vest or jacket to maximize your chances of being seen.
Bicycles are a fun, efficient, economic, and environmentally friend way to travel around Los Angeles, but improper gear, handling, and lane splitting increase the risks of a collision, potentially a fatal one similar to the story previously mentioned. Smartphones are ubiquitous to Los Angeles residents and worse yet, drivers. Many will check their phones while driving, which can mean disaster for cyclists. Make sure that you are equipped with the skills and gear to avoid hazardous situations. If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a bicycling accident in Los Angeles, contact us immediately to discuss your options and next steps.