A lot of debate is circulating about the best way to integrate bicycles into traffic flow in Los Angeles and communities across the country. Some places favor adding bike lanes or paths adjacent to or built into regular car and truck travel lanes. In other locations, solutions to prevent bike accidents include segregating motorists and bicyclists by using physical barriers and even entirely different paths.
No matter whether opinions of California bike riders, drivers, traffic planners and lawmakers are shared or different, none of these groups can ignore statistics showing more bicyclists than ever before are injured and killed on U.S. roads.
There were 726 bicycle fatalities nationwide in 2012. The same year, 49,000 bicyclists were injured in car accidents -- 6,000 riders suffered incapacitating injuries, the kind that can result in expensive, long-term medical care or life-long disability.
The bulk of victims who suffer injuries in bike accidents are the youngest riders, ages 5 to 24. However, the fatality rate among younger children isn't as high as it is for teens and young adults, ages 15 to 24. The other high risk group is bike riders, age 45 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sixty-nine percent of all fatal bicycle accidents happen in urban settings. Males make up 88 percent of the bicyclists who are killed. The number of bike accidents, injuries and deaths has risen at a time when crash rates for passenger vehicles have fallen.
Bicyclists share responsibility for safety with drivers on California roads. However, size and lack of protection force riders to bear the greater part of the pain and suffering when there's a collision.
Serious injuries can deprive bicycle accident victims of physical and mental health, earnings and a satisfactory quality of life. Compensation for these losses and others can be sought through settlements and personal injury claims in California civil courts.