May 13 kicked off "National Bike to Work Week." While many urban areas encourage people to bike to work -- especially in places like California where the weather is generally good -- there are still tremendous safety hazards for cyclists.
According to one reporter's review of the coroner's reports for Orange County alone, there were a minimum of 14 cyclists killed in 2018. A total of 16 were killed the year before. That's far too many for just one area -- especially when you take into account how many other cyclists were probably injured in traffic accidents but managed to survive.
The issue of traffic dangers to bicyclists has become a major one in many urban areas around the nation -- as evidence by the proliferation of "ghost bikes" popping up all over the nation. The bikes -- which are painted all white -- are placed by mourners near the places cyclists are killed as both a memorial and a vivid reminder to drivers and cyclists alike to be careful while on the road. They're also a silent form of protest -- pointedly reminding city leaders that encouraging cyclists to ride without providing them the proper infrastructure to do so safely and support against drivers who don't want to share the road puts real lives at risk.
Distracted driving -- by the drivers of vehicles of all sizes -- is a big problem for cyclists. So is "road rage." The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 80% of drivers admit to losing their cool while behind the wheel. Aggressive actions by drivers are linked to more than half of all fatal crashes.
In California, state law requires drivers to give cyclists a wide berth -- three-feet, actually -- when passing. Unfortunately, the law is seldom followed. That's why cyclists are generally urged to take the full lane when they ride, rather than risk hugging just the right side of a lane.
If you've been injured while biking in traffic or a loved one was killed by a motor vehicle, find out more about your legal rights. These tragedies won't stop until enough people are made aware of the consequences.