Parking concerns, driver inattention plague San Francisco cyclists

Collisions between cyclists and motorists are an increasingly common problem on San Francisco's streets. In fact, injury collisions involving cyclists in the city are the highest they have been in 10 years. Fortunately, injured cyclists are able to hold motorists accountable in the event that a driver's negligence causes a collision.

2011: a tough year for San Francisco cyclists

There were 630 injury collisions involving bicycles in San Francisco in 2011. This number is the highest it has been in the last ten years and represents one-fifth of all injury collisions in the city. Bicycle collisions have steadily increased since 2002, when they accounted for less than 10 percent of all collisions in San Francisco. Between 2006 and 2011 alone, bicycle collisions increased 84 percent.

Unfortunately, 2011 also saw the deaths of four cyclists in traffic collisions. That is the highest number in the city in at least ten years. Most injury collisions involving bicycles were broadside incidents, in which cyclists are hit at a right-angle. Sideswipe incidents were the second most common type of collision.

Factors contributing to collisions between bicycles and vehicles vary depending on whether the cyclist or motorist is at fault. When cyclists are considered to have caused the crash, accidents often involve unsafe speeds, failing to stop on the stop line, violation of red light signals and changing lanes without a signal.

Accidents in which a motorist is at-vault include those caused by improper lane changes, unsafe opening of vehicle doors, failing to yield the right-of-way to cyclists, traveling at an unsafe speed and making an unsafe maneuver while backing up or parking.

Parking vehicles plague city's cyclists

An increasingly common safety issue on San Francisco's busy streets is motorists cutting off - or worse, colliding with - a cyclist in pursuit of the rare city parking space. Many bike lanes in San Francisco run between the road and parallel parking spaces. This means that vehicles must cut through a bike lane to park.

Often, motorists do not check their blind spots before crossing a bike lane or do not see a cyclist because it is dark outside. Other times, motorists will double-park in the middle of a bike lane to run an errand or drop off a passenger. This forces cyclists to veer into the street to move around the vehicle.

Unfortunately, many motorists choose to ignore the rules that help keep cyclists safe, while others choose to be hostile toward cyclists that point out unsafe or illegal behaviors. To make matters worse, law enforcement rarely issues citations to drivers who violate city rules. Instead, most drivers get off with a verbal warning.

Even if a motorist is never cited for violating the city's traffic rules, it is possible for injured cyclists to hold at-fault motorists accountable for their injuries. Injured cyclists may be able to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

To learn more about how to hold the motorist who injured you accountable, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.