California Bicycle Safety and the “Three Foot Law”
California in general and Davis in particular have been at the cutting-edge of bicycle safety for decades. In fact, some of the bicyclist-friendly infrastructure now commonplace in many cities was introduced in Davis nearly 50 years ago. These infrastructure improvements were adopted primarily to make city streets more accessible and safer for bicyclists. Last year, California once again demonstrated its commitment to bicyclist safety by recently enacting the “Three-Foot-Law,” commonly referred to as “Give Me Three.”
Davis Bicycle Safety Tips
I’m Ed Smith, a Davis Bicycle Accident Attorney. Bicycling can be a wonderful way to get around Davis and other communities while staying “green” and protecting the environment. Bicycling is also great for your own health and decreases traffic congestion on California roadways. But bicycling in Davis or elsewhere in California can be dangerous – especially for the bicyclist. Each year, numerous bicyclists suffer severe or fatal injuries as a result of a bicycle crash. By following some common-sense bicycling safety tips, bicyclists can remain safer on the road.
Safety Tips for Bicyclists
The following safety tips will not prevent all bicycle crashes or bicycle injury accidents. However, bicyclists who follow the following tips are taking important measures that will decrease the likelihood that they will be involved in a bicycle crash and/or reduce the severity of the injuries they will sustain. Bicyclists should:
- Always wear a helmet. No other safety measure has been shown to decrease the likelihood of a TBI or other serious head injury as wearing a helmet. The helmet should bear marks of certification and should fit the head properly. Be sure that a helmet provides protection for the top and sides of the head.
- Wear safety equipment and highly visible clothing. Other safety equipment like gloves and glasses can help prevent other common bicycling injuries and prevent the bicyclist’s vision from becoming impaired. Bicyclists should also wear visible clothing with bright colors so that motorists and other bicyclists are able to see them more easily.
- Use bicycling lanes where available. Whenever a bicycling lane is available, a bicyclist should use these lanes. Although nothing would prevent a car from entering a bicycle lane and striking the bicyclist, most California motorists – especially those in Davis – expect bicyclists to be in these lanes and drive accordingly.
- Obey traffic laws. Bicyclists should subject themselves to the same traffic laws applicable to motorists. This includes stopping at red lights and stop signs, yielding to traffic when appropriate, and using hand signals to indicate turns and stops. Using hand signals helps communicate the bicyclist’s intentions to other motorists, allowing the motorists to react accordingly.
- Do not tailgate traffic or travel in a vehicle’s blind spot. Bicyclists should take all reasonable measures to make themselves visible to other drivers. Bicyclists who travel too close to a car or truck or travel in the vehicle’s blind spots make it difficult for the motorist to see the bicyclist, increasing the likelihood of a crash.
- Ride defensively. Bicyclists should avoid riding offensively but should instead assume that motorists and other bicyclists may not be able to see them and react in time to avoid a crash. This means bicyclists should allow for plenty of room between them and other cars and should wait to observe the movement of traffic before making turns in front of other vehicles.
Common Injuries Sustained in a Davis Bicycle Accident
Bicycling has been a significant part of Davis (as well as other parts of California) for decades. Despite some of the innovative measures Davis has taken to make its city more accessible and safe for bicyclists, there have been few advances made by any public or private entity that has made bicycling-related injuries any less severe. In fact, many of the same injuries that plagued some of Davis’s first bicyclists in the 1960s and 1970s are still plaguing modern cyclists. Modern bicyclists (like those in years past) whose injuries are caused by the negligent or careless actions of another are able to seek compensation from the at-fault party.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
The severity of a bicyclist’s injuries in the aftermath of a crash will depend on a number of factors that may or may not be within the bicyclist’s control. One of the primary considerations is what type of accident in which the bicyclist is involved: a bicyclist who collides with or is struck by a moving car will obviously suffer more serious injuries than one who strikes a curb and tips over. Other relevant factors include:
- The bicyclist’s age, general health, and any preexisting conditions;
- The surface onto which the bicyclist falls (cement, asphalt, grass, or some other surface);
- If the bicyclist simply falls off his or her bike or if he or she is thrown off of the bicycle;
- What objects, if any, the bicyclist strikes in addition to the ground (i.e., another car, a person, a road sign, etc.);
- How quickly the bicyclist receives medical attention; and/or
- Any protective equipment the bicyclist is wearing and the quality of this equipment.