More bicycles are on our roadways during the COVID-19 pandemic, and more accidents (how to stay safe)

May 13, 2020 | 6:00 am


With the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis restricting much of everyday life, limiting movement to essential trips for food and medicine and a daily outings for exercise, bikes have emerged as savior for many.

Bicycles have become a welcome tool for this pandemic as a way to quickly get around and get exercise while staying a safe distance from everyone else. In some cities, cycling has increased by more than 150% during the outbreak, according to the World Resource Institute.

Unfortunately, also increasing are injuries from cycling. In New York, authorities reported a nearly 50% jump in cyclists injuries during March. The rise in cyclist injuries comes as the number of people on the road overall is decreasing as more people work and are staying put inside their homes. It appears that driver inattention and failure to yield, and some form of driver error are all to blame.

Locally, The Bakersfield Californian reported that that bicycle shops and bike repair businesses are doing well at a time when many retailers are struggling or shut down entirely. The California Highway Patrol recently issued a reminder to motorists to share the road safely with bicyclists, who may be out in larger numbers as a result of the stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus. In fact, local CHP offices are giving out helmets to children, and parents or guardians. According to the National Safety Council, cyclists who wear a helmet reduce their risk of head injury by an estimated 60 percent. California law requires cyclists under 18 to wear a helmet.

The increase also comes at a time of another sobering statistic: From 2016 through 2018 in California, more cyclists died in traffic accidents across the state than during any three-year period in the past 25 years, according to California Healthline. Surging popularity of bike shares and fitness cycling are part of the reasons.

At the time, and especially during this month’s National Bike Month, Chain | Cohn | Stiles reminds everyone — bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists — to stay alert on our roads to keep everyone safe. Read below for quick tips of how we can all stay safe:

RULES OF THE ROAD

Here are bike laws you need to know to pedal safely and legally, courtesy of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition:

  • Pedestrians have the right of way: In the crosswalk or not, bike riders and drivers are required to yield to pedestrians.
  • Stop behind the crosswalk: Leave crosswalks free and clear for pedestrians. Always stop behind the line.
  • Mind the signs and lights: Stop at stop signs and obey red lights, just like all other vehicles.
  • Stay on the streets: It’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk.
  • Go with the flow: Ride the same direction as traffic. Walk your bike on the sidewalk if you find yourself on the wrong block of a one-way street.
  • Take the lane: If you’re next to parked cars or you’re riding in a narrow lane — if you feel safer, take the lane and ride outside the door zone.
  • It’s OK to leave the bike lane: If you feel safer outside the bike lane, you can ride in other vehicle travel lanes. Merge when safe and signal when changing lanes.
  • Light up the night: Reflectors and a front white light are required by law. We recommend you use a rear light as well.
  • Keep an ear clear: Even when using hands-free devices, bike riders and drivers are required to keep one ear free of headphones.
  • Be a friend to disabled neighbors: Sometimes people with disabilities need access to the curb. Paratransit carriers (including taxis) may have to enter the bikeway to drop them off. Be a good neighbor and give them room.
  • Pass on the left: Although bike lanes are often on the right side of the road, people biking and driving are required to pass on the left.

And here are a few tips to ensure the safety of everyone on the road:

  • Drivers should look behind them before making a turn at an intersection, especially if crossing into a designated bike lane.
  • Drivers should use extra caution backing up or leaving a parking space.
  • Bicyclists should go with the flow of traffic and let faster traffic pass.
  • Bicyclists should make themselves visible and wear brightly colored clothing.
  • Bicyclists are advised to use lights from dusk to dawn (front white light and rear red flashing light or reflectors).
  • Bicyclists should always wear a helmet and use hand signals when turning or stopping.
  • Both drivers and bicyclists should avoid distractions like using their cell phone.

 

CRASH CHECKLIST

If you are involved in a collision while riding a bicycle, it’s important to know the steps to follow to ensure that you receive fair response from the police and collect information you may need for future legal issues. Even if you are not injured, follow this checklist as injuries can come up later.

Immediately after a crash

  • Tell the driver to stay until the police arrive. If they refuse to stay or don’t provide ID, get their and the car’s description, vehicle’s license plate # and state of issue.
  • Call (or ask someone to call) 9-1-1, and ask for the police to come to the scene.
  • Get name and contact info for any witnesses. Ask them to remain on the scene until police arrive, if possible.
  • Ask for the driver’s license and insurance card. Write down name, address, date of birth, and insurance information.

When the police arrive

  • Ask them to take an incident report.
  • Get reporting police officer’s name and badge number.
  • If you’ve been doored, ask the officer to cite the motorist for dooring.
  • Ask the officers to speak to witnesses, if possible.
  • While a doctor’s report of your injury is important for insurance and/or legal action, you do not need to take an ambulance.

In the days after the crash

  • Contact witnesses to ask them to email you their version of what happened while it’s fresh in their mind. Email yourself a description of what happened with relevant information and capture as much detail as you can.
  • Take good photos of your injuries and any bike damage. Get an estimate from a bike shop before making repairs.
  • Request a copy of the incident report from the police.
  • Contact an attorney who has experience with bicycle accidents.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

Bike Month 2019: Bike Bakersfield events, safety tips, crash checklist and more

May 8, 2019 | 10:41 am


Bike Month

May is National Bike Month, a time to celebrate the power of the bicycle, and Chain | Cohn | Stiles is partnering with the local bicycle advocacy group, Bike Bakersfield, to promote bike safety throughout Kern County.

Bicycle accidents are on the rise in Bakersfield and the Central Valley, and sadly, so are deaths. In 2016, 138 bicycle riders were killed on California roads, a nearly 25 percent increase from 2011, according to Bakersfield Police Department and the California Office of Traffic Safety. Among the main factors in these crashes were failing to yield right of way, speeding, improper turning, using the wrong side of the road, and not following traffic signs or signals.

Below you’ll find a listing of events hosted by Bike Bakersfield and sponsored by Chain | Cohn | Stiles, as well as bike riding safety tips, and a checklist to use in the case of a bicycle accident.

Safe riding!

 

BIKE MONTH EVENTS 2019

As part of its mission to reduce the number of accidents in our community, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has partnered for years with Bike Bakersfield to give away hundreds of free bicycle lights and safety helmets throughout Kern County through “Project Light Up The Night” and “Kidical Mass” events, the latter of which also features bike repairs, safety demonstrations, and a group bike ride.

Here are several Bike Bakersfield events taking place this month, sponsored in part by Chain | Cohn | Stiles:

  • May 3, Roller Race Competition: Sprint competition from 5 to 8 p.m. at
    the Library (1718 Chester Ave). Fastest sprinter each hour gets a drink.
  • May 4, Give Big Kern at CALM: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for kid’s roller
    races and information on Giving Day!
  • May 6, Bike Mechanics Workshop: Frame alignment, fit, greasing seat post, stem and chain checks.
  • May 7, Give Big Kern Giving Day: 12 to 1 p.m. Give, ride to the park, and eat. Lunch from Tacos La Villa for the first 25 people who donate on Giving Day.
  • May 8, Bike to School Day: Post a selfie with the hashtag #BakoBikeMonth2019 for a chance to win great prizes.
  • May 11, Pride Ride: Decorations are encouraged at this fun ride
    beginning at 9 a.m. at The Center. Register on Facebook — @BikeBakersfield.
  • May 12, CycloFemme Day: Join at 10 a.m. at Park at River Walk to Hart Park. Or join us at Hart Park by 11:30 a.m. for light snacks, and a cruise.
  • May 13, Bike Mechanics Workshop: Servicing brakes and shifters.
  • May 15, Ride of Silence Ceremony: Starts at 6:30 p.m. at Cafe Smitten. Join early for 10 percent off your purchase. Honor cyclists killed or injured on public roadways.
  • May 17, Bike to Work Day: Take a selfie with you and your bike on the
    GET Bus using the hashtag #BakoBikeMonth2019, and be entered to win great prizes.
  • May 18, Blood Drive for Houchin Blood Bank: At Bolthouse Drive, bring your kids for a bike rodeo, bike repairs, and help save a life. Partnering with the Kern County Asthma Collaborative.
  • May 18, Full Moon Ride: Family-friendly ride from Beach Park to The Marketplace starting at 7 p.m.
  • May 20, Bike Mechanics Workshop: Headset and bottom bracket overhaul.
  • May 27, Bike Mechanics Workshop: Hub overhaul and wheel tuning 101.

Bike Bakersfield is also hosting “commuter support stands” from 6 to 9 a.m. on Thursdays, providing water, snacks, coffee, minor repairs and support
for those walking and bicycling (courtesy of Costco and Aldi).

  • May 2 at the Park at River Walk, and Beach Park bike paths.
  • May 9 at the bike paths off Finish Line, and Niles and Mount Vernon.
  • May 16 at Planz Park and Bike Arvin.
  • May 23 at California and Union Avenue, and Chester and China Grade.
  • May 30 at locations to be determined.

 

RULES OF THE ROAD

Here are bike laws you need to know to pedal safely and legally, courtesy of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition:

  • Pedestrians have the right of way: In the crosswalk or not, bike riders and drivers are required to yield to pedestrians.
  • Stop behind the crosswalk: Leave crosswalks free and clear for pedestrians. Always stop behind the line.
  • Mind the signs and lights: Stop at stop signs and obey red lights, just like all other vehicles.
  • Stay on the streets: It’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk.
  • Go with the flow: Ride the same direction as traffic. Walk your bike on the sidewalk if you find yourself on the wrong block of a one-way street.
  • Take the lane: If you’re next to parked cars or you’re riding in a narrow lane — if you feel safer, take the lane and ride outside the door zone.
  • It’s OK to leave the bike lane: If you feel safer outside the bike lane, you can ride in other vehicle travel lanes. Merge when safe and signal when changing lanes.
  • Light up the night: Reflectors and a front white light are required by law. We recommend you use a rear light as well.
  • Keep an ear clear: Even when using hands-free devices, bike riders and drivers are required to keep one ear free of headphones.
  • Be a friend to disabled neighbors: Sometimes people with disabilities need access to the curb. Paratransit carriers (including taxis) may have to enter the bikeway to drop them off. Be a good neighbor and give them room.
  • Pass on the left: Although bike lanes are often on the right side of the road, people biking and driving are required to pass on the left.

The Bakersfield Police Department this month also offers a few tips to ensure the safety of everyone on the road:

  • Drivers should look behind them before making a turn at an intersection, especially if crossing into a designated bike lane.
  • Drivers should use extra caution backing up or leaving a parking space.
  • Bicyclists should go with the flow of traffic and let faster traffic pass.
  • Bicyclists should make themselves visible and wear brightly colored clothing.
  • Bicyclists are advised to use lights from dusk to dawn (front white light and rear red flashing light or reflectors).
  • Bicyclists should always wear a helmet and use hand signals when turning or stopping.
  • Both drivers and bicyclists should avoid distractions like using their cell phone.

 

CRASH CHECKLIST

If you are involved in a collision while riding a bicycle, it’s important to know the steps to follow to ensure that you receive fair response from the police and collect information you may need for future legal issues. Even if you are not injured, follow this checklist — courtesy of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition — as injuries can come up later.

Immediately after a crash

  • Tell the driver to stay until the police arrive. If they refuse to stay or don’t provide ID, get their and the car’s description, vehicle’s license plate # and state of issue.
  • Call (or ask someone to call) 9-1-1, and ask for the police to come to the scene.
  • Get name and contact info for any witnesses. Ask them to remain on the scene until police arrive, if possible.
  • Ask for the driver’s license and insurance card. Write down name, address, date of birth, and insurance information.

When the police arrive

  • Ask them to take an incident report.
  • Get reporting police officer’s name and badge number.
  • If you’ve been doored, ask the officer to cite the motorist for dooring.
  • Ask the officers to speak to witnesses, if possible.
  • While a doctor’s report of your injury is important for insurance and/or legal action, you do not need to take an ambulance.

In the days after the crash

  • Contact witnesses to ask them to email you their version of what happened while it’s fresh in their mind. Email yourself a description of what happened with relevant information and capture as much detail as you can.
  • Take good photos of your injuries and any bike damage. Get an estimate from a bike shop before making repairs.
  • Request a copy of the incident report from the police.
  • Contact an attorney who has experience with bicycle accidents.

— Martin Esteves contributed to this report.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a bicycle accident at the fault of someone else, contact the attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.