Over the last decade, Santa Monica residents have increasingly turned to their bikes to get to work, pop down to the Promenade, enjoy the bike path by the Santa Monica Pier, and generally get around the city. Biking is a cost-effective mode of transportation and a great way to get some exercise on a beautiful Southern California day, but the popularity of cycling does have a downside. As more bikes get out on the streets, more cyclists are injured in motor vehicle accidents.

In response to the increasing number of vulnerable cyclists sharing our busy streets with cars, trucks, and buses, Santa Monica has taken steps to make the city more “bike friendly” by adding bike lanes and paths and launching billboard campaigns to raise awareness for both cyclists and drivers. While these efforts have made a big difference in making Santa Monica safer for bikes, cyclists are still hit and hurt by drivers every year.

Bike Friendly Improvements Don’t Mean That Santa Monica Cyclists Can Let Down Their Guard

Although Santa Monica has come a long way in becoming a safe and friendly place for cyclists to indulge their favorite hobby, cyclists can’t completely let their guards down when they ride. Distracted drivers, reckless drivers, drowsy truckers, and even unexpected weather conditions can create a danger for cyclists. Despite using designated bike lanes, riding defensively, signaling turns, using reflectors, and taking other safety measures, even safety-oriented cyclists are sometimes hit. While Southern California cities go to great lengths to create a safe and friendly environment for two-wheeled transportation, cyclists still can’t always count on drivers to obey the rules of the road.

New Program Aims to Improve Bike Routes and Pedestrian Paths

If you’re a cyclist in California, your woes could be over—at least, according to government safety officials. Authorities at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced a new program aimed at redesigning bike routes and pedestrian walkways across the country to reduce preventable injuries. The campaign will involve working with local governments and officials over a period of 18-months, and assessing how non-motorized transportation can be improved in each of the 50 states.

According to U.S. DOT, the new pedestrian and bicycle safety initiative will focus on:

  • Road diets. DOT officials will examine if “road diets” could be an effective way to reduce bicycle accident injuries. Road diets involve redesigning roadways with lower traffic volumes to add bike lanes and pedestrian paths. These measures have been highly effective at reducing crashes in the past. For example, when they are used on rural highways that pass through small towns, they reduce crash rates by 47 percent. 
  • Gaps. Gaps, or areas where there are no sidewalks, bridges, or dedicated paths for non-motorized vehicles, are a particular danger for bikers and pedestrians. Federal officials will work together with local transportation administrators to determine where the most dangerous gaps exist and find ways to fix them. 
  • Cross-commuting. Studies have shown that many lower income communities have higher rates of pedestrian deaths, and are more likely to walk, bike, and use public transportation. Officials will examine bike- and walk-friendly access to bus stops and train stations in order to address “last mile” safety for people who use non-motorized vehicles as part of their daily travel.
  • Education. As part of its focus on safety, the U.S. DOT will offer information on best driver behaviors, lane-sharing practices, and crash avoidance technologies to make motorists more aware of the presence of bicyclists and pedestrians. 

If you have already been involved in a bike accident in or around Santa Monica, don’t wait any longer to learn about the legal options available to you. Our book, 7 Big Mistakes to Avoid After a Motorcycle or Bicycle Accident, was designed to help Southern California cyclists protect their rights after an accident and start taking action to recover compensation for their medical bills and other damages. This guide is available for free to bike accident victims and their families—simply request your copy today by giving us a call or filling out the contact form on this page.

Peter Steinberg
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982