On March 29, 2012, a man who was walking in a crosswalk was struck by a bicyclist in San Francisco and suffered serious injuries. The man was walking across Market Street in a marked crosswalk, when he was hit. Both the pedestrian and the cyclist suffered head injuries causing loss of consciousness. They were both taken to San Francisco General Hospital for treatment of their injuries.
According to one of the witnesses, the cyclist was traveling south on Castro and was crossing Market when the pedestrian accident occurred. The witnesses advised the police that the cyclist may have run the red light.
In a study by NHTSA, in 2005, more than 5000 people were killed in pedestrian and bicycle accidents. Although the numbers have declined, pedestrian and bicycle serious injuries and deaths resulting from accidents is still a big problem.
In order to reduce the numbers of personal injury accidents further, bicyclists should do the following. First, remember that you are bound by the same rules of the road as a motor vehicle. That means among other things, that cyclists must obey traffic controls such as traffic lights, stop signs, yield signs just as any operator of a vehicle must. In the case above, a serious accident, which resulted in injuries to both the rider and the pedestrian, may have been avoided if the law regarding stopping for red lights was obeyed.
In addition to following the traffic laws, cyclists can help prevent serious personal injuries to themselves by wearing protective equipment and taking other safety precautions. The number one form of safety equipment to be used is the helmet. It is unknown in this accident whether the cyclist had a helmet on or not, but he lost consciousness as a result of the collision, and therefore, one must suspect that a helmet was not worn. Helmets have proven effective in reducing serious head injuries and preventing traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Helmets are required by California law for riders under the age of 18.
Besides the use of a helmet, cyclist should wear clothing so they can be seen by others. White is not recommended. Rather, cyclist should wear neon, fluorescent or other bright colors whether riding at night or day. It is best to avoid riding at night, but if you must, make sure you have reflectors on the front and rear of the bike, reflectors on your wheels, and reflective tape on shoes are useful in improving visibility.
While following the usual rules of the road is mandatory, there are a few other California laws which pertain to bicyclists who use the road way. Bikes should ride as far or near to the right curb or edge of the roadway as is practical--not on the sidewalk. Bikes may choose to ride on the left side of the roadway, when they are on a one way street. Bikes must make left and right turns in the same way drivers do, using appropriate turn lanes. If the cyclist is riding straight ahead, he should use a through traffic lane rather than riding next to the curb.
As an Alameda bicycle injury lawyer, I have seen many serious injuries caused when bicyclists have been involved in accidents. The frequency of these accidents can be reduced if we follow the proper rules of the road for cyclists. The severity of these accidents can be reduced by wearing appropriate safety clothing and helmets. If you have been seriously injured in a bike accident, it is vitally important to know your legal rights as well.
Pedestrian, cyclist injured in crash in Castro, San fRancisco Chronicle, March 30, 2012
California Driver Handbook- Sharing the Road, California Department of Motor Vehicles