Sharing the Road: Personal Injury on the Bike Path


Bicycles are in. People want a way to maintain health while enjoying the outdoors, capitalizing on the best of Southern California living. And with urban renewal, more residents can get by with a bike, sidestepping vehicle ownership. Even bike sharing is on the rise throughout San Diego, especially with the city’s promotion of DecoBike.

But with an increase in cyclists on the road comes an increase in the risk of bicycle-related personal injuries. Cyclists are sharing the road with what is still congested traffic. And many drivers need to do a better job of navigating the roads around cyclists. Because cyclists are unprotected on the streets, open to the elements, even a relatively low-impact incident can lead to serious injury of the cyclist.

Here are some of the main causes of bicycle-related injury accidents:

Distracted driving. We know that drivers are increasingly distracted by cell phones, even though California law has gotten tough on handheld phone use.

Reckless driving and speeding. Cyclists do have horror stories. Some drivers are known to be deliberately aggressive toward cyclists, which is absolutely in violation of the law (and can lead to an assault charge). In other cases, the aggressive or rushed drivers may be unaware of the cyclists, but their bad driving can still cause a harmful incident.

Illegal or hurried left turns. Many drivers are programmed to watch for other cars but often miss out on spotting cyclists (as well as pedestrians). This is especially true when making left turns, when drivers often have one eye on oncoming traffic and another on the traffic signal. Sometimes, drivers may realize they’ve missed their route and, rather than proceeding safely by pulling over to reroute or taking another, safer turn, they hastily try to make an illegal left or U-turn when conditions aren’t safe. Often, they will be distracted and won’t check for cyclists who are already there.

Poorly marked bike paths. Maybe the city hasn’t maintained bike paths properly, or the paint marking the path has faded, or there are obstructions on the path that have not been removed, either creating the hazard itself or causing the cyclist to move into the road and into a potentially hazardous situation.

Dangerous road conditions. Sometimes, accidents are accidents. Maybe rain or road construction has created unsafe conditions, or debris has been left behind. Motorists and cyclists may have no warning even if they are driving and riding safely and attentively.

Who is at fault depends on the circumstances, and determining fault involving cyclists can sometimes be a challenge. Personal injury lawyers meet with witnesses and review police reports to look at all the factors that would determine liability, whether it be a driver, the city, or a construction company, for example. In the cases of handling hit-and-run accidents involving bicycles and cars, it is important to be able to get evidence from the scene before it disappears. If identification isn’t possible, injured cyclists may still be able to receive compensation by using an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, which could help victims with medical expenses and other damages, including lost wages.

Our award-winning team focuses exclusively on personal injury matters. This means you will have an attorney with a proven track record fighting on your behalf. Call us today at (619) 525-7007 or visit us at to find out how we can help. Our law firm is in downtown San Diego at 1230 Columbia Street #560, San Diego, CA 92101.