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Press Release

Fatal Los Angeles Bike Accidents Raise Safety Questions

A series of bicycle crashes has some advocates wondering if Los Angeles authorities are neglecting bike safety in the name of other concerns.
August 23, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- On the morning of July 14, 2012, 42-year-old Willis Veluz-Abraham, a Los Angeles-area bicycle enthusiast and father of two, crashed his bike into a ravine near Stunt Road and Mulholland Highway. The authorities arrived too late and found that Veluz-Abraham had lost his life.
The cause of the fatal accident was initially unclear; there did not appear to be any other vehicles involved. What would make an experienced bicyclist lose his grip on the road?
Then it was discovered that rumble strips had recently been installed on the strip of highway where the accident happened. The indentations are five inches wide and about one-half inch deep, and are carved into the double yellow line that separates lanes of opposing traffic.
According to Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, the strips were meant to slow down motorized traffic in the area -- but in a press release his office admitted they come with a tradeoff: "any change in the road surface can create hazards, especially for bicyclists and motorcyclists."
A bicycle rider is only likely to cross the center line when turning or leaning hard into a curve at high speed in an attempt to control the bike. High speed, a steep angle on the bike and an uneven road surface in combination can spell trouble for a cyclist, and many now speculate that this risk played out for Veluz-Abraham.
Is Enough Being Done to Prevent Bicycle Accidents in LA?
The Veluz-Abraham accident is only the latest in a series of bicycle crashes that has some advocates wondering if Los Angeles authorities are neglecting bike safety in the name of other concerns.
In another fatal bike accident this summer, a 30-year-old Venice woman died after being struck by a hit-and-run driver on Pacific Coast Highway. The crash occurred at the border of Santa Monica and Los Angeles, where a beachfront bike path abutting PCH was meant to provide an alternative to mingling with the highway traffic. However, the crash occurred at night, and only months before L.A.'s Department of Public Works declined biking advocates' request to install lights on the path. Since many bicyclists consider the path unsafe at nighttime without adequate lighting, commentators speculate that perhaps the hit and run could have been prevented if the city had implemented more bicycle-friendly engineering solutions.
So what is being done in Los Angeles to promote bicycle safety? New bicycle paths and designated lanes like the one along PCH have been one solution -- although half-hearted measures like building the paths but neglecting to install full safety features undercut the efforts. The Los Angeles Police Department has also been proactive in bringing the bicycle safety training it uses for its officers to the masses, even tapping into the popular social media site YouTube.
Some officials blame bike accidents largely on a culture where cars have been overprioritized to the detriment of other modes of transportation. Sometimes drivers don't respect the rights and right-of-way of cyclists, with disastrous results. The L.A. mayor's office has planned a number of public service announcements to help educate the public about sharing the road.
Of course, in these tight economic times, cost is always a huge consideration. Without major funding, bicycle safety improvements have a hard time getting off the ground. It's not just monetary costs either: despite promises from city officials, accidents like those mentioned above show that politicians are still weighing heavily in favor of motor vehicles versus bikes when considering cost versus engineering tradeoffs on roadways.
Legal Liability for California Bike Crashes
In many instances, government entities would be better off paying the upfront costs of engineering safe bike pathways than facing legal liability after accidents. When a feature of a road or bike path had some flaw (whether in its design, construction or maintenance), this flaw causes or contributes to injury in an accident, and there was negligence involved (the breech of a duty of care), the government organization (or in some cases a third-party contractor) responsible for the path or road may be held financially responsible by an injured victim.
More commonly, bike-accident victims seek compensation from the drivers of other vehicles involved in crashes (or their insurers). When the driver of a motor vehicle makes a mistake and either strikes a bicyclist or causes the bicyclist to crash, the negligent driver can often be forced to pay for resulting injuries.
If you've been injured in a bike accident, it's important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. There is a time limit for suing after being injured, and the quicker you act, the sooner you may be able to recover the compensation you deserve. Get in touch with a Los Angeles bike accident lawyer today to discuss your case.
Article provided by Law Office of Daniel W. Dunbar
Visit us at www.dandunbarlaw.com/
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