There’s little question that Los Angeles has tried to lead the way when it comes to bicycle safety and infrastructure. Activists have tried to make it safer for those using self-propelled vehicles, and they have achieved many significant gains, such as the creation of dedicated bicycle lanes on many roads.
Yet, despite municipal and personal investments in bicycle safety, road improvements and even e-bike initiatives, crashes between cyclists and motor vehicles remain a significant safety concern. All too often, cyclists are the ones who end up hurt or killed in such collisions, even though many crashes are actually the fault of those in the motor vehicles involved. A local news outlet reviewed 170 deadly bicycle-car crashes in Los Angeles between 2018 and 2022, and the results show two clear trends.
One of the biggest predictive factors for the likelihood of a bicycle crash is whether or not motorists think to check for cyclists near them in traffic. The majority of fatal crashes occur between 6:00 p.m. at night and 6:00 a.m. in the morning. The evening and nighttime hours are so dangerous because drivers don’t think to look for cyclists and dark road conditions may make them harder to spot.
A lack of cycling infrastructure
Researchers found that more than three-quarters of the collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles that resulted in a cyclist dying occurred where there was no bicycle infrastructure. A lack of bicycle lanes often directly translates to increased risk for the cyclist. Drivers may not notice them and are more likely to cause a crash when they have to share a lane with the cyclist as opposed to simply being close to them as they travel in the bike lane. Cyclists can protect themselves more effectively by prioritizing routes that have bike lanes and trying to be as visible as possible if biking after 6:00 in the evening or early in the morning.
When cyclists do end up sustaining injuries as a result of a crash, they may benefit from seeking legal guidance in order to pursue an insurance claim or a civil lawsuit. Holding drivers accountable when they cause bicycle crashes can reduce the financial consequences people experience in the aftermath of collisions that they did not cause.