Cyclist fatalities continue to rise in Southern California

Bicyclist fatalities are rising in California and the U.S., due to more cyclists and poor safety infrastructure.

Cycling has become much more popular in recent years, with many Americans choosing to get around by bicycle either for recreation or for getting to work. However, while the popularity of bicycling has helped improve the health of countless people, it has also led to an increase in cyclist injuries and fatalities. As the Orange County Register reports, since 2000 the number of people in California who commute by bike has increased by 40 percent. However, that has also led to an increase in fatal bicycle accidents throughout the state, particularly in Southern California.

More cyclists commuting to work

As more people look for ways to get healthy and beat rush hour traffic, commuting to work by bicycle has become extremely popular. As mentioned, cycling to work has increased by 40 percent in California since the Millennium. Meanwhile, nationwide the number of bicycle commuters grew by 105 percent between 2000 and 2013.

However, that has also led to an increase in serious bicycle accidents, especially those involving adults. While the cyclist fatality rate involving children has decreased, those involving adults aged 35 to 54 years has increased threefold. U.S. cyclist fatalities have increased six percent since 2006. In California, those same fatalities increased from 100 in 2010 to 123 in 2013 and California now has the sixth-highest cyclist fatality rate in the country.

Bicycle safety in Los Angeles

The situation is particularly dangerous in Southern California, especially Los Angeles. As the Los Angeles Times reports, traffic fatalities in Los Angeles increased by 43 percent last year, with about half of traffic fatalities involving pedestrians and cyclists (despite the fact that pedestrians are only involved in 14 percent of overall accidents). In Orange County, meanwhile, on average about one cyclist is killed every month.

While the growing popularity of bicycling certainly explains some of the increase in fatalities, it is important to point out other risks as well. Bicycle infrastructure, such as separate bike lanes, is, unfortunately, still sorely lacking in much of Southern California. Furthermore, due to low gas prices and an improving economy, more people are also taking to their cars, which leads to more opportunities for collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles to occur .

Personal injury law

For cyclists, even a seemingly minor collision with a motor vehicle can be life threatening. Furthermore, when cyclists are involved in accidents they are often unaware of what claims for financial compensation are available to them. Fortunately, in many cases cyclists can pursue compensation, either through their own auto insurer or through the other driver's insurer. A personal injury attorney can help injured cyclists understand what legal options are open to them and how to go about filing a claim for whatever compensation may be available.