Bicycle-pedestrian collision injury

As pedestrian and vehicle infrastructures stretch to handle an ever-increasing population, city councils wonder how to maintain safe travel. New roads, sidewalks, street signs, traffic lights, bicycle lanes, speed bumps and roundabouts are major investments. City coffers do not contain enough funds to keep up with the traffic.

Bicycle-pedestrian accidents are not uncommon

Research performed in Great Britain shows catastrophic injuries or fatalities to pedestrians struck by bicycles doubled in a 10-year period. A bicyclist riding in traffic averages around 12 mph, but can reach 20 mph or more. By the time a pedestrian has looked both ways before entering a crosswalk, a bicycle can be upon the person, and tragedy strikes.

Most people probably do not think of bicycles in the same category as cars when legally walking across a road. A female pedestrian waits for the green signal, then looks both ways in case a vehicle fails to stop. An unseen bicyclist runs the light and collides with her as she steps off the curb into the crosswalk. The woman receives severe injuries.

Motor vehicle laws govern bicycle riders

For the most part, cyclists must behave like car drivers. There are some exceptions. In many cities, cyclists are legally allowed to ride on sidewalks, to the disgust of more than one pedestrian startled when a bicycle whips past them. Cyclists themselves may not realize they must obey motor vehicle laws. They run stop signs, sail through red lights at intersections or weave quickly through pedestrian sidewalk traffic, failing to anticipate the potential for disaster.

California bicyclist charged with felony manslaughter 

In a May 2018 article, the San Francisco Chronicle reported a cyclist is now claiming to be the victim of a manslaughter charge due to political grandstanding. In 2012, the San Francisco cyclist was seen speeding past several stop signs before he ran a red light at the Castro and Market Street intersection. He crashed into a senior citizen walking across the street, causing fatal injury to the 71-year-old man. Prosecutors secured a conviction of felony manslaughter against the cyclist.

Concerned about the rise in pedestrian-bicycle accidents, the Oakland, California police department joined the open data portal for Oakland pedestrian safety provided by the Police Data Initiative. The PDI collects crash data to help cities identify where and what type of crashes occur. The PDI reported bicycle-pedestrian fatalities across the country rose 12 percent when bicyclists commuting to work rose over 60 percent. 

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David G. Smith, Attorney At Law
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