For many reasons, Los Angeles should be a haven for bicyclists. The perennially sunny weather and easy-to-navigate topography allow for plenty of cycling opportunities. But when it comes to preserving cyclists’ safety, Los Angeles fails the two-wheeled community.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that in 2019, nearly a third (36) of the statewide bicycling fatalities occurred within Los Angeles County.
A well-earned bad reputation?
A few years ago, L.A. had the ignominy of earning itself the title of “Worst Bike City in America,” according to Bicycling Magazine. They cited the abysmal condition of many roads and streets as well as the ever-present hazard of distracted drivers. They also noted that local authorities seemed to prefer to settle multiple million-dollar lawsuits with plaintiffs than to invest more into repairing and replacing the city’s infrastructure and keeping cyclists safe.
Look to the numbers
One automotive website found that more than 62% of roads in the Long Beach, Los Angeles and Anaheim metro areas were in poor condition. This is much greater than the 45% of urban highways in the state that the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) cited as being in similar shape.
What this means for the cycling community
Bicyclists have the same rights to use most roads and streets as do motorists. While drivers and bicyclists should both do all they can to remain safe, it is unfair to the cyclists to shift the majority of the safety burden onto their shoulders.
Lobbying officials and legislators for safer cycling conditions is one option for bike riders. Another is being very proactive about seeking justice after a cycling crash with an at-fault driver leaves them with injuries.