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Merced Bicycle Accident Lawyer


As the city and county seat of Merced County in the San Joaquin Valley, Merced is a unique city filled with friendly and warm people eager to make visitors feel welcome. With various attractions, restaurants, and historic sites and just an hour and a half drive to Yosemite National Park, residents and visitors can find plenty of things to do and see.

Merced also has one of the best city bikeway systems in the country. The city recently added new bike lanes and routes to the system where bicyclists can follow a path to any area within the town. While biking in Merced is a great way to get around the city, the activity has risks. Bicycle accidents are not uncommon and have caused severe injuries and even deaths.

Statistics on Cycling Crashes

As the weather in the Central Valley gets warmer, more and more people are bicycling to work, for exercise, and for fun. Bicycles, by law, are considered vehicles with the same rights and rules as motor vehicles. However, when an accident happens between a bike and a motor vehicle, it is most likely the cyclist who is injured. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • Nearly 900 bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2016.
  • Bicyclists accounted for more than 2 percent of all traffic-related deaths in 2016.
  • Bicyclist fatalities happened most often between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • About 84 percent of bicyclists killed were males.
  • The most substantial number of males injured were between 55 and 59 years old.
  • About 29 percent of bicyclist accidents involved alcohol with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
Common Reasons for Vehicle Versus Bicycle Collisions

Bicycle accidents are widespread in Merced, especially when bikes share the road with motor vehicles. Although the city of Merced has come a long way in fostering bicycle safety, it is ultimately the drivers’ responsibility to obey the laws. The majority of bicycle accidents in Merced are due to careless drivers. A negligent driver is either distracted or violates a traffic law. Some of the common causes of bicycle accidents include:

  • Cutting off cyclists
  • Motorists driving in the bicycle lane
  • Motorist or bicyclist who is driving or riding while intoxicated
  • Failing to brake in time
  • Failing to yield to cyclists
  • Improper turns
  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Texting or talking while driving

Aside from driver’s carelessness, bicycle accidents can also occur due to the local government’s failure to properly maintain roads and bicycle lanes. Some typical examples include:

  • Bumps or cracks on the street or sidewalk
  • Lack of adequate lighting at night time
  • Lack of bicycle lanes
  • Lack of proper signage
  • Poorly configured intersections
  • Potholes
Merced Bicycle Accident Injuries

Bicycle accident injuries are usually severe and often deadly because cyclists don’t have adequate protection from other vehicles on the road. Although a cyclist can wear protective gear such as a helmet, there is no actual protection between the cyclist and the car or the pavement. Some common injuries that can occur in a bicycle accident include:

  • Broken bones
  • Bruises
  • Chest injuries
  • Head or brain injuries
  • Internal bleeding
  • Organ damage
  • Road rash, abrasions, and cuts
  • Spinal cord, back and neck injuries
Bicycle Riding Safety

There are two types of bicycle accidents. The most common is a fall, and the most serious is a collision with a vehicle. No matter the reason, prevention is critical to decreasing your chance of an accident. Before you head out on the road, make sure to:

  • Ride a bicycle that is the right fit for you. If a bike is too big, it may be harder to control.
  • Ride a bicycle that works. Being a great rider doesn’t matter if the brakes don’t work.
  • Wear a fitting-size helmet. Wearing a helmet is a must, but it’s equally important that the helmet fits appropriately to ensure the best protection.
  • Be visible. Wear protective gear that will make you more visible to other drivers. For example, wear bright clothing during the day and reflective equipment or reflectors on your bike at night.
  • Double-check for loose shoelaces or pant legs to avoid getting caught in the bike chain.
  • Ride with both hands on the handlebars unless signaling a turn.
  • Plan your route ahead of time. If you are riding with other vehicles on the road, choose a route with lower speeds and less traffic. Riding in a bike lane or bike path may be safer and away from traffic altogether.

Watch YouTube Video: Bicycles Rules of the Road. This educational video provides some basic rules of the road for bicycles.

Drive Defensively

While on the road, drive defensively by staying focused and alert. Expect what other drivers may do before they do it. The quicker you notice a potential problem, the sooner you can act to avoid an accident. Some ways you can drive defensively include:

  • Ride with the flow of traffic.
  • Obey signs, signals, and road markings.
  • Look for situations or avoid hazards like potholes, rocks, and train tracks that may cause you to fall.
  • Don’t listen to music or use other devices that may distract you from the road and traffic.
Ride Predictably

When you ride predictably, drivers will see your intentions and can react to prevent an accident. Ride where you are expected to be seen. Avoid riding on the sidewalk. Cars don’t usually expect to see moving traffic on a sidewalk and can hit you when turning or backing out of a driveway. If riding on a sidewalk is unavoidable, be sure to:

  • Watch for pedestrians and pass them with care on your left side.
  • Use hand signals or look over your shoulder before turning.
  • Slow and look for traffic, especially when crossing a street.
  • Slow down and look for cars turning or backing out of a driveway.

Many accidents can be avoided if bicyclists and drivers watch out for each other. Following the rules of the road can help reduce injuries and deaths.

California Bicycle Accident Attorneys Serving Merced County

Cycling crashes may cause severe injuries or even death to bicyclists. If you were injured or lost a loved one in a cycling collision, contact our Merced bicycle accident attorneys at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice on your case. We’ve helped numerous clients in the Merced community with personal injury and wrongful death cases since 1982. You are welcome to read through some of our verdicts and settlement cases.

Editor’s Note: updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 4.6.23] Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. from Pexels cha [cs 1095]