Sacramento Bike Accidents: Fifth deadliest city in the nation

According to the Wall Street Journal, Sacramento bike accidents are a serious problem. In a report they recently conducted on the deadliest cities for bicyclists, Sacramento ranked as the fifth deadliest city in the nation for bicyclists.

The Wall Street Journal report compiled data from 2007-2016 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and found the death rate for bicyclists in Sacramento during that time span was 4.8 per 100,000 people. Sacramento ranked fifth behind:

  1. Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida, which had a bicyclist death rate of 7.0 per 100,000 people
  2. Jacksonville, Florida, which had a bicyclist death rate of 6.0 per 100,000 people
  3. Orlando, Florida,which had a bicyclist death rate of 5.8 per 100,000 people
  4. Miami, Florida, which had a bicyclist death rate of 5.4 per 100,000 people

Bicycle Fatalities and Bicycle Injuries in Sacramento

Are we facing an epidemic of bike accidents in Sacramento? When we look closer at data from the California Highway Patrol, over the past 15 years, about 3,200 cyclists were injured on Sacramento streets in bicycle collisions with cars. Another 38 Sacramento cyclists were killed. That’s over 215 people injured or killed every year in Sacramento since 2003. You could break it down further to say that for the past 15 years, approximately 4 people every week of every year have been injured or killed while riding a bicycle on a Sacramento street.

Some believe these numbers correlate with the city’s growth, as over the past 15 years the city grew by approximately 49 thousand people. In another snapshot, in the 6-year period between 2009 and 2015, the city grew by approximately 21 thousand people. During that time, collisions where someone was seriously injured or killed while bicycling or walking on a Sacramento street increased 63%. UC Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System states that in Sacramento:

  • 11 people were killed and 71 were injured in 2015
  • 16 people were killed and 58 were injured in 2016
  • 18 people were killed and 53 were severely injured in 2017

Sacramento Bike Accidents by Neighborhood

So where is it most dangerous to ride your bike in Sacramento? According to a report done by the Sacramento Bee, approximately half of all fatal bicycle collisions happen in South Sacramento – specifically, south of Broadway and west of Power Inn Road. Stockton Boulevard is a notably dangerous street for bicyclists, especially at the intersection of Fruitridge Road and Stockton Boulevard. In the past 15 years, 26 bicyclists were injured at Fruitridge and Stockton in South Sacramento. Other dangerous intersections in Sacramento include North B and 12th Streets in downtown Sacramento, where 19 bicyclists were injured in the past 15 years, and West El Camino and Truxel Road in the Natomas suburb of Sacramento, where 16 bicyclists were injured in the past 15 years.

The most dangerous neighborhoods for bicyclists in Sacramento include midtown, East Sacramento, Valley Hi and downtown, where the majority of bike accidents that resulted in injury have occurred.

Sacramento Launches Vision Zero to Curb Bicycle Collisions

Bright green bike lane in Sacramento to help prevent Sacramento bike accidentsSacramento clearly has some work to do to make the city safer for bicyclists. In 2017, the city announced its Vision Zero Action Plan to cut down on Sacramento bike accidents, stating that “the City of Sacramento will work collaboratively in a data-driven effort to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2027.”

The Vision Zero program started in 1997 in Sweden and has since been adopted by a number of U.S. cities with promising results. Since implementing the program, Sacramento has taken the following steps:

  1. Installation of the City’s first segment of cycle track
  2. Sacramento City College Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge
  3. Mid-block crossings with enhanced safety features, such as Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons
  4. Freeport Blvd road diet, bike lane and pedestrian improvements
  5. Carlson Drive Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements – includes the City’s first bicycle signal phase, bike box, and two-stage left-turns for bicyclists
  6. C Street bike lane project providing improved school access
  7. City of Sacramento monthly Urban Cycling Class
  8. Over $22 million in safety grant improvements 2013-2017

Additionally, the City of Sacramento has since secured federal funds for engineering and construction of the following projects that are currently in the development stage:

  1. $3,378,000 for a Class IV separated bikeway on North 12th Street (on the HIN)
  2. $2,763,000 for the Broadway Complete Streets project that includes a road diet, buffered bike lanes, and curb extensions along a major arterial roadway (on the HIN)
  3. $4,536,000 for the Meadowview Complete Streets which includes buffered bike lanes, separated sidewalks and high visibility crosswalks, in addition to median and streetscape improvements on a high speed arterial roadway identified on the high injury network
  4. $995,700 for D.W Babcock and Northwood School improvements which include signals, connecting sidewalk gaps, and curb extensions on El Camino Avenue which has been identified on the high injury network
  5. $800,000 for the Franklin Boulevard Complete Streets which is evaluating the road diet of a major arterial roadway on the high injury network to provide bike lanes, street enhancements, and separated sidewalks
  6. $315,000 for Class IV separated bikeways along Franklin Boulevard (on the HIN)
  7. $491,000 for Downtown Parking Protected Bikeways, locally-funded (on the HIN)

For more information about the Vision Zero Action Plan, click here to read the full Vision Zero report.

Sacramento Bike Accidents: Legal Issues Worth Considering

Both cyclists and drivers must obey traffic laws, and they also must exercise caution for other drivers and pedestrians on the road. So because bicycles are considered to be “vehicles,” just like motorcyclists, they, too, must obey the rules of the road.

But injured bicycle riders also have the same rights as any other person legally using the public roadways, and victims of Sacramento bike accidents can sue the other party to seek financial recovery for their injuries.

The types of damages typically recovered in a bicycle accident include:

  • Payment for pain and suffering
  • Past and future medical bills
  • Past and future lost earnings
  • Emotional distress

What if a bicyclist contributed to the cause of a collision? Then his or her recovery may be reduced by the percentage of negligence they shared in causing the collision. If a cyclist’s negligence caused injury to someone else, the cyclist may also be held liable for the other person’s injury.

In accidents involving children on bicycles, however, courts hold drivers to a higher duty of care. Whenever children are present, the courts hold drivers responsible for exercising more caution than they would in collisions involving adult bicyclists. This is also sometimes referred to as “unusual care”.

How to Protect Yourself from a Bike Crash

  • Always take extra precautions when riding in high traffic areas, and be especially cautious at intersections.
  • Slow down at intersections and be ready to brake quickly if necessary.
  • Always use front and rear reflectors or lamps to increase your visibility, as well as reflective and bright colored clothing.
  • Be on constant lookout for cars and other bikes.
  • Ride defensively and always have an escape route.
  • Learn the best emergency maneuvers for avoiding crashes.
  • Do not ride in a car’s blind spot while approaching from behind or while waiting at traffic lights.
  • Never pass a car on the right at intersections or driveways. Either slow down to match the pace of the car, or take the lane and pass on the left.
  • Never ride against traffic.

When to Consult with a Sacramento Bike Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you or your caretaker should consult with a personal injury attorney as quickly as possible. Hiring an attorney soon after your injury can help preserve important evidence and documentation, and will improve your chances for recovering monetary damages.  You should also speak with a lawyer very soon after your collision to ensure the statute of limitations (a time limit for filing a lawsuit regarding your injury) doesn’t expire. This time limit varies state to state and depends on the defendant and type of injury you sustained, but in some cases it can be as short as 6 months after the injury occurred. This means time is of the essence when contacting a personal injury lawyer to protect your rights.

Eric Ratinoff has been advocating for injured bicyclists for over 25 years. If you or someone you love has been injured in a Sacramento bike accident, call us today at 916-970-9100 or fill out the contact form on this page to speak with an experienced Sacramento personal injury lawyer today!