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Most Common Bicycle Accidents in the Central Valley

With the highest concentration of commuters on bicycles of any state in the nation, California is actively committed to increasing the safety and comfort of cyclists throughout the state. At the same time, city and county initiatives to support cyclists have grown in popularity throughout the Central Valley. The question is: Is it safe to take to the roads on a bicycle in Fresno, Bakersfield and the surrounding areas? With an increase in cyclists often comes a corresponding leap in bicycle accidents, which can have far-reaching implications for those injured while riding a bike.

How Common are Bicycle Accidents?

A safety report commissioned and released by the city of Bakersfield shows a total of 64 combined fatalities between 2014 and 2017 for pedestrians and cyclists. Of those fatalities, 9 were cyclists. What isn’t indicated in this data, however, are injuries resulting from accidents involving bicycles and additional data from the areas immediately outside the Bakersfield city limits.

In Fresno, approximately 130 collisions involving bicycles are reported to police each year. Of those accidents, 2 to 3 will result in loss of life. These rates earn Fresno one of the highest bicyclist fatality rates among the 50 most populous cities in the United States, despite a growing number of bike lanes and shared-use paths for cyclists.

Common Causes of Accidents

Cars in general are a justifiable concern for cyclists in the Central Valley. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that 29 percent of injuries among cyclists between 2008 and 2012, in the United States as a whole, were caused by cars. Even more alarming, the same data shows that 74 percent of total cyclist fatalities in the United States during the same period were caused by cyclists being struck by the front of vehicles traveling in the same direction as someone riding a bicycle. The League of American Bicyclists report up to 40 percent of serious injuries resulting from bicycle accidents occur when their bicycle is rear-ended by a motor vehicle.

Distracted drivers, people driving under the influence and inexperienced drivers can all be perilous for cyclists. Despite a statewide bicycle and pedestrian support plan enacted in 2017, California still ranks 4th in the nation for per capita bicycle fatalities.

To stay safe, cyclists should always use appropriate hand signals when crossing in front of vehicles, but still assume the driver cannot see them clearly. Using lights and reflectors can help increase visibility, but the rate of cyclists struck by cars traveling in the same direction means it’s also important to pay attention to vehicles traveling behind you, as well as oncoming traffic.

Despite making every effort to stay safe in traffic, bicycle accidents do happen. When they happen to you, it’s vital you have legal representation to ensure access to the treatment and recovery time you need. Martin Gasparian at the Maison Law Firm may be able to help you secure the compensation you deserve. Call today to discuss your unique situation.


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