New initiatives take aim at growing danger for Sacramento bicyclists

In early 2014, the California Household Travel Survey from Caltrans was released. According to the results, since 2000 there has been a twofold increase in the percentage of California residents bicycling on a daily basis. In fact, Caltrans reports that more than 1.5 percent of all trips made within California are taken by bicycle.

California's bike culture is growing, and tremendous efforts are being made to reduce bicycle accidents. Even so, dozens of cyclists are killed on the roads every year in California and thousands more are injured, many of them in high risk areas like Sacramento. With the California Highway Patrol reporting an uptick in bicycle accidents, several measures are in the works to help make the roads safer for cyclists.

Education and new laws are two approaches

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, bicycle accidents are responsible for around five percent of traffic collision fatalities in California. This is a significant increase compared to years past. Sacramento has been pegged as a city that is particularly hazardous for non-motorized travelers; for example, a new study from Smart Growth America ranked the Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville area at number 23 out of the 25 worst American metro areas in term of the ration of walkers to pedestrian accident deaths.

One recent initiative to help prevent these types of deaths was an educational campaign launched by the Office of Traffic Safety and the California Highway Patrol in May. The campaign encouraged motorists to share the road safely with other travelers by avoiding distractions, watching carefully for cyclists and showing respect for cyclists on the road. The campaign also tried to reach cyclists with a message of taking personal responsibility for their safety by always wearing a helmet, riding with caution and being courteous to others on the roadways.

Education is one approach to bicycle safety, but the law is another. Starting on September 16, a new law will go into effect in California that requires drivers passing cyclists to give at least three feet of clearance. If a driver cannot give three feet of clearance, under the law he or she will be required to wait to pass until doing so would not put the cyclist's safety at risk.

A separate law currently being considered by the California State Legislature in Sacramento would, if passed, increase penalties for those convicted in hit-and-run accidents. Bicycle hit-and-runs are a specific concern for supporters of the bill, as more than 14,000 California cyclists were injured in hit-and-run accidents over the last decade, according to data from the California Highway Patrol.

Get help from a Sacramento injury lawyer in the wake of a bicycle accident

Laws, educational initiatives and personal responsibility can all help prevent bicycle accidents. But when preventative measures fail, bicycle accident victims may have to turn to the after-the-fact remedies available through the legal system.

If you have been harmed in a bicycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Get in touch with a Sacramento bicycle accident lawyer today to explore your legal options.