One of the key concerns for many cyclists in San Francisco revolves around their safety and staying away from accidents. Given the densely populated streets and numerous vehicles traveling throughout the city, the likelihood of being in an accident is unfortunately elevated. Over the last five years, San Francisco ranked second among all California cities for the highest number of bicycle accidents per year with 455.2 per the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWIRTS).
Count on MJQ Law for Guidance After a San Francisco Bicycle AccidentWhether you’re a seasoned bicyclist or new to riding in San Francisco, The Law Offices of Matthew J. Quinlan is here to assist if you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident. Our dedicated team of experienced San Francisco bicycle accident lawyers offers comprehensive legal assistance, guiding you through the process of recovering from injuries and damages by explaining your rights and what you need to do in the claims process. Contact us for a free consultation to learn how we can assist you.
What Can Cause Bicycle Accidents in San Francisco?Despite its immense popularity throughout San Francisco, riding your bicycle in the city can present several potential challenges. From riding in crowded areas like the Mission District to climbing the city’s famous hills, there are any number of potential factors that can lead to accidents. By far the most common underlying cause of accidents, though, is sharing the road with drivers–mostly because of things like:
- Heavy traffic – San Francisco’s dense population results in high traffic volumes in the city’s more crowded areas. This increases the likelihood of bicycle-car interactions and raises the accident risk.
- Limited infrastructure – Despite recent improvements, some of the city’s roads lack designated bike lanes and safety features, making it hard for bicyclists to ride safely and increasing accident risks.
- Distracted driving – Distracted driving is a growing issue in San Francisco, leading to drivers overlooking bicyclists due to distractions like phones, elevating accident risks.
- Reckless driving – Speeding, especially on highways and major roads, reduces driver reaction time to unexpected situations, elevating the risk of accidents involving bicyclists.
- Weather patterns – San Francisco experiences unpredictable weather patterns, including sudden fog, rain, and strong winds. These weather changes can reduce visibility for both bicyclists and drivers, making the roads riskier for accidents.
Bicycle Safety Tips in San FranciscoThe good news is that while riding a bicycle in San Francisco can sometimes result in an accident, there are certain measures you can take to maintain your safety. Not surprisingly, many of these have to do with staying alert and wearing protective equipment. That said, here are some safety tips for when you’re riding your bike in San Francisco:
- Wear a helmet – When riding your bike, you should always wear a properly fitting helmet. It’s your best defense against head injuries in case of accidents.
- Visibility – Equip your bicycle with lights and reflectors. San Francisco’s weather can change rapidly, and these accessories will make you more visible to drivers, especially during foggy or rainy conditions.
- Follow traffic rules – Follow traffic laws, signals, and signs. Bicycles are subject to the same rules as motor vehicles in San Francisco.
- Use bike lanes wherever available – Whenever possible, stick to designated bike lanes or paths. They offer a safer route and reduce the risk of collisions with cars.
- Stay alert – Keep an eye out for car doors opening suddenly, especially in crowded areas with parallel parking. You’ll want to keep a safe distance away from parked cars.
- Watch for trams and other public transportation – Be cautious around San Francisco’s iconic cable cars and trolleys. They share the road with cyclists, so be prepared to stop or yield when necessary. The same goes for many of the city buses on the road.
- Avoid rush hour – If possible, plan your rides during less congested times to minimize interactions with cars.
- Weather awareness – Stay updated on weather forecasts, especially during the foggy season. Dress appropriately and adjust your riding style for wet or foggy conditions.
- Anticipate hills – San Francisco is known for its steep hills. Make sure your brakes are in good condition, and practice safe downhill riding techniques.
- Stay in control – Maintain control of your bike at all times, especially on steep descents down a hill. You should never ride too fast for your level of experience and skill.
- Signals and indicators – Always use hand signals to indicate when you want to turn and stop. Clear communication with drivers is crucial.
- Ride defensively – Assume that not all drivers will see you. You may need to react to unexpected situations by riding defensively.
- Maintenance – Regularly inspect your bicycle for maintenance issues, like tire pressure, brakes, and gears.
- Educate yourself – Consider taking a bicycle safety course or joining a local cycling group for additional guidance and support.
Actions to Take After a San Francisco Bicycle AccidentWhile it’s somewhat unique, a bicycle accident is ultimately like any other in terms of what you should do after one happens to you in San Francisco. Depending on the severity and how hurt you are, here’s what you should do after experiencing an accident:
- Assess your injuries – First, assess yourself and others involved for injuries. If anyone is seriously hurt, call 911 immediately for prompt medical attention.
- Get to safety – If it’s safe to do so, relocate yourself and your bike to a secure area to prevent further accidents or hazards.
- Find medical care – Even if you feel fine initially, it’s essential to seek medical attention promptly. Some injuries may worsen over time.
- Exchange information – Exchange contact and insurance details with the other party involved in the accident, including their name, address, phone number, and insurance information.
- Collect and document evidence – Gather as much evidence as possible. Take photos of the accident scene, document damage to your bike, and capture images of any injuries.
Damages in a San Francisco Bicycle AccidentBeing in a bicycle accident in San Francisco, unfortunately, means that you’ll probably be injured and have other losses. California law allows you or any other injury victim to pursue damages through an injury claim if the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence. This could be a driver who wasn’t paying attention or could even be the City of San Francisco if the accident was caused by a pothole or malfunctioning street light. Regardless, filing a claim allows you to recover certain financial support and benefits like:
- Medical bills and expenses – You can seek reimbursement for all medical expenses related to your injuries, covering hospital visits, medications, and rehabilitation costs.
- Lost income – If your injuries lead to missing work, you can claim compensation for lost wages, including potential future earnings if your ability to work is permanently affected.
- Property damage – If your bicycle is damaged, you’re eligible for funds to cover repairs or its fair market value if it’s beyond repair.
- Pain and emotional distress – Financial support is available for the physical pain and emotional suffering caused by the accident.
- Loss of enjoyment of life or companionship – If your injuries hinder your ability to take part in activities you once enjoyed, you can claim damages for this loss.
- Punitive damages – In exceptional cases, you may qualify for punitive damages to penalize the responsible party for severe misconduct.