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Hit-and-runs disproportionately injure cyclists

If you are a bicyclist in and around Los Angeles, it's probably preaching to the choir to mention just how dangerous it can be to ride your bike.

In the past few years, there has been over a 40 percent uptick in the number of hit-and-run accidents with those riding bikes in L.A. County. Date analysis of California Highway Patrol crash statistics paint a disturbing picture.

The numbers show that the overall number of hit-and-run incidents declined by 30 percent. In the 10 years between 2002-2012, over 5,600 bike riders were hurt and no fewer than 36 died in hit-and-runs.

Almost 20 percent of hit-and-run collisions with bicyclists happened in these five neighborhoods: North Hollywood, Santa Monica, Van Nuys, Long Beach and downtown Los Angeles. Children are much more likely to be hurt in bike wrecks than adults. Of the total who were harmed, 40 percent were under the age of 19.

Federal data indicates that more Los Angeles residents are beginning to commute by bicycle. The city has responded by increasing the number of bike lanes for safer riding and healthier lifestyles.

But the worst part of the situation is that drivers involved in hit-and-run collisions with cyclists are caught infrequently, and those that are often face an almost lackadaisical prosecution.

One Los Angeles assemblyman remarked that the likelihood of being convicted of hit-and-run is so rare that "if you wanted to murder someone, it would almost be better to just hit them with your car." The assemblyman has worked to get togher penalties for those convicted of hit-and-run accidents.

Because of the negligible chance of a hit-and-run driver facing criminal penalties, once they are identified, it may be necessary to pursue civil justice through the filing of personal injury litigation.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Hit-and-runs take a rising toll on cyclists," Armand Emamdjomeh, Laura J. Nelson and Joseph Serna, accessed May 13, 201

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