Los Angeles Named the Worst City for Bicyclists

It will not come as a shock to many frequent bike riders across Los Angeles and the Southern California area that L.A. has been named as the worst city in the United States for bicyclists in a recent report from Bicycling.com

The report highlighted some of the tremendous strides that other major cities such as Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago have taken in recent years to make their streets more bicycle friendly. 

On the contrary, Los Angeles’ lack of effort in making the city more suitable for bicyclists is seeing it move in the opposite direction. As the author notes, L.A. has all of the ingredients to become a biking mecca: excellent weather year round, awful traffic that makes biking an excellent option to get around to avoid that gridlock, and a mostly flat grid pattern of roads that makes pedaling less difficult for bicyclists.

However, despite all these advantages that Los Angeles would seemingly have to make it a safe and welcoming environment for bicyclists, Los Angeles County alone has more bicyclist fatalities every year than all but three states in the entire country. Anyone who bikes in L.A. is literally taking their life their hands by virtue of choosing to venture out on the roads on a bicycle.

How Bad Is Los Angeles for Cyclists?

The statistics show that Los Angeles is absolutely the worst place in the country if you are a bicyclist, bar none. LA County alone has accident and fatality statistics that rival or exceed all but three entire states in the country. For instance, in the past five years alone, more than 180 riders in the Los Angeles metropolitan area have been killed by motor vehicles. During the period of 2014-2016, only three U.S. states experienced more cyclist fatalities than just L.A. County alone-Florida, New York, and the state of California as a whole.

Despite the size of the LA metropolitan area, each of these states dwarf L.A. County in population, which only puts into perspective how bad the problem of bicyclist safety in the Los Angeles area truly is.

In 2018, 21 bicyclists were killed in accidents with motor vehicles across L.A, which is an increase from 17 deaths that arose for the same reason in 2015. People are dying at a much higher rate in Los Angeles as a result of cycling accidents than just about everywhere else in the country.

According to the most recent preliminary 2019 traffic statistics published by L.A. police, fatal collisions were down about 3% in the first 14 weeks of 2019 from the same time period in 2018, but an estimated 38 pedestrians were killed — up nearly 20% from the same period last year.


Why is L.A so Bad for Bicyclists?

Biking in Los Angeles Could be Dangerous
Biking in Los Angeles Could be Dangerous

There are many interlinked factors that contribute to Los Angeles’ poor reputation for bicycling. Basic rationale would suggest that the foundation for any bicycle friendly city would be infrastructure put in place to aid bicyclists. Unfortunately, for the majority of L.A., this is a key area that the city falls short in.

There is a distinct lack of adequate bicycle lanes across the city. Where there are bicycle lanes, bicyclists are often made to share road space with car drivers. For instance, L.A. has over 1,200 miles of bikeways – the problem is that most of this is across road shared with drivers, which sees drivers battle for the space. For a city as affluent as Los Angeles, there has been a distinct lack of investment into providing bicyclists with adequate infrastructure relative to the city’s counterparts.

The lack of bicycle infrastructure is coupled with the fact that the majority of L.A. roads – to put it simply – have a lot of cars on them.  A byproduct of this is arguably the worst congestion in any city in the entirety of the United States and congestion sees an increase in bicycle accidents for a few reasons. Firstly, it makes riding a bicycle more difficult for inexperienced riders as they try to weave their way through more obstacles. Further, empirical evidence suggests congestion may cause an increase in aggressive drivers. Drivers in congested traffic are less likely to make calm, rational and well thought out decisions: and it is often bicycles that are on the receiving end of poor decision making.

As well as a distinct lack of investment, there is a distinct lack of maintenance. Many roads across L.A. are in a poor condition and are not fit for purpose – increasing the amount of accidents that bicyclists are involved in. This includes a bicycle rider that lost his life to as a direct result of a bulge in a L.A. road caused by an uprooted tree.

These factors lead on to the biggest contributor to bicycle accidents: car users themselves.

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What Are The Worst of the Many Dangers Facing LA Bicyclists?

The Bicycling.com report also notes that one of the particular dangers in Los Angeles for bicyclists in the past several years has been the behaviors of drivers themselves.  Even though California has a strict distracted driving law, the California Office of Traffic Safety has noted that nearly 60% of motorists themselves report almost having been hit by someone using a cell phone or other handheld device while behind the wheel.  The statistics further reflected that the number of drivers at any one time that are using a mobile phone and distracted is growing at a rate of more than 2% every year.

Distracted drivers simply often will not see bicyclists until it is too late to do something about it, and even though the distracted driver is the one who did something wrong, it is the bicyclist that will suffer the consequences.

The Bicycling.com report further notes the large increase in hit-and-run crashes involving cyclists in Southern California in recent years. This past April, three riders were killed in such incidents in just one week.  One cyclist was even hit twice during the same bike trip and both drivers who hit him fled the scene. Between distracted and simply inattentive drivers, bicyclists in Los Angeles almost don’t stand a chance. After all, how can someone on a bike with nothing but a bike helmet to protect them compete with a 5000 pound car driven by someone who is busy texting a friend and not paying attention?

Contact JT Legal Group if You, A Loved One or Family Member Has Been Injured While Biking in Los Angeles or Elsewhere in Southern California

If you live in California and yourself, a family member or someone you love has been injured or killed while out biking as a result of someone else’s negligence, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at JT Legal Group at (888) 529-3111 right away. Our experienced Los Angeles bike accident attorneys handle all manner of personal injury claims, from claims against negligent drivers and their insurers for injuries caused to bicyclists. Without the help of a trusted personal injury law firm like JT Legal Group, your claim may be subject to getting pushed to the side or completely rejected. For more information, including a no cost consultation regarding your particular situation, contact our firm immediately ” we’re here to help you.

A no cost consultation with a licensed and experienced California Personal Injury attorney regarding your unique conditions is available by calling:

1-888-LAW-3111 Monday-Friday, 8am to 6pm.

Jack Ter-Saakyan, Esq.

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