Conquer Your Fear of Cycling in the City

In a podcast a few years back, principal and founder of Rahman Law, Shaana Rahman, mentioned the fear she had when first riding in San Francisco.  There were new ins and outs that she had to learn including how to cross railcar tracks safely (go straight across) and negotiate busy intersections.  Urban riding can be dangerous, but we’ve pulled together some great tips for you to conquer your fear of cycling in the city. 

  • Plan your Route in Advance

A lot of people skip this step when riding and just take the same route they would take in a car.  But riding a bike in the city may cause you to take a different route to stay within safe riding areas and minimize the number of obstacles you’ll face.  There are several interactive maps available online to help you mitigate your chances of an injury including the Vision Zero Hight Injury Network Map: https://sfgov.maps.arcgis.com/apps/OnePane/basicviewer/index.html?appid=335c508503374f5d94c95cb2a1f3f4f4 and the SF.gov map: https://sfgov.org/scorecards/transportation/traffic-fatalities

If you live and/or work in an injury corridor, you may not be able to avoid all of the intersections known to be dangerous, but you will know to be extra alert when passing through.  Awareness and planning can really help reduce the fear of cycling in the city.

  • Practice Outside of Rush Hour

If you’re planning a new route or riding for the first time in a while, it will help you conquer your fear by riding outside of the rush hours before and after work and at lunch.  Try riding first thing Saturday morning when there is less traffic as you become familiar with your route.  Or for an even more positive experience, try riding your route a few times with a friend.  Remember to ride in line and not side-by-side. 

  • Be Visible

When riding at night in California, a headlight is required plus a rear reflector or red light along with the standard side-facing reflectors on both sides of the bicycle.  And while the lights and reflectors required by California law are a great start, the more visibility you can give yourself, the safer you’ll be.  Invest in a reflective jacket you can wear over your work clothes if you plan on being a cycling commuter.  You can also put lights on during daytime riding, especially in foggy San Francisco, for an extra layer of visibility.  You can also add reflectors to your helmet if it doesn’t include them already. 

  • Practice Hand Signals and Obey Traffic Laws

If it’s been a while since you last used hand signals, there’s a refresher for you here: https://www.bikemn.org/mn-bicycling-handbook/hand-signals/.  Remember to use your hand signals to let the traffic around you know that you’ll be moving into or across their lane.  And always obey traffic lights and signs.  Being on a bicycle does not mean road rules are optional.  You can brush up on your road rules in California here: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/handbook/california-driver-handbook/.

  • Use the Vehicle Travel Lane When Needed

You may not find wide bicycle lanes available throughout your planned route, though San Francisco has been increasing the visibility of these lanes where possible as part of the Vision Zero initiative.  If you’ll be riding along lanes of parked cars, be prepared to use the vehicle travel lane by always giving yourself a safe escape window while riding.  Parked cars can lead to open doors and opening doors can lead to injuries. You have the right to use the vehicle travel lane when needed. 

Conquering any fear takes work.  Taking the time to plan your route, practice it, and being familiar with traffic laws can all help you be more confident when you take to two wheels in the city.  We also recommend having our phone number saved in your phone in case of a collision.  Call 911 first if there are any injuries, gather as much information as you can on the scene, then give us a call if you need help reclaiming damages from a broken bicycle or injury.  We’re personal injury lawyers and we’re here to help.  Consultations are free.

Contact us at our San Francisco office at 415.956.9245, or our Paso Robles office at 805.619.3108. 

Bike Month Activities for the Whole Family! 

National Bike Month is here and we want to celebrate!  A lot of what we post relates to rules of the road, laws and ordinances, and safety, but today we’re going to talk about all the fun ways to celebrate National Bike Month with bike activities that can be enjoyed by the whole family. 

Plan a Ride with a Local Group

Ever city has cyclist riding groups, sometimes you just have to look for them.  And most of them offer rides for varying degrees of skill.  Some groups post their rides on the website and app Meetup (https://www.meetup.com) where you can find others to ride with for free.  In San Francisco, there is the San Francisco Cycling Club (http://www.sfcyclingclub.org) and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (https://sfbike.org) that frequently post scheduled rides.  You can also talk to the Coalition as they may know other groups with organized rides.  In Paso Robles, there is a list of groups that ride at Cycle Central Coast (https://www.cyclecentralcoast.com/resources) including a group that goes out every Sunday from Templeton and they frequently have beginner rides.  You can also talk to Bike SLO County (https://bikeslocounty.org) to find other organized rides and events. 

Tune Up Your Bike

A lot of riders are “fair weather riders” and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  If you put your bike away for the winter, and even if you don’t, the spring is a great time to get a tune up on your bike.  You can tune it up yourself if you’ve got experience, or take it into a local bike shop for some help.  In San Francisco and San Luis Obispo, there is the Bike Kitchen (http://bikekitchen.org and https://bikeslocounty.org/programs/kitchen) available on select nights where you can bring your bike in and tune it up alongside other cyclists.  This can be a great bike activity to make new friends and riding buddies. 

Introduce Your Kids to Riding with Others

Many kids have a bike and ride around on their own street but don’t go much further.  This month is a great time to introduce your kids to an organized ride.  Talk to other parents and plan to have adults front, middle, and back of a few kids riding together in a quiet area.  There are bike trails to keep them away from traffic completely, or you can make this a time to learn the rules of the road by finding a route with minimal traffic and wide bike lanes to give them room.  Remember to ride single-file and obey traffic ordinances like red lights and stop signs.  Both the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and Bike SLO County organize riding events for kids, so be sure to check their calendars and see if there is an event you’d like to bring your kids to: https://sfbike.org and https://bikeslocounty.org.

Set Up an Obstacle Course

This bike activity can be fun for the whole family or you can arrange it for adults with a few modifications to the difficulty levels.  Break out some sidewalk chalk on a street or set up cones (sometimes you can find small cones at the $5 and under stores or at sporting-goods stores).  You can make it exciting with a few water balloons on the ground you have to ride over to pop or use a pool noodle to create a limbo pole.  You can set up tight curves or even really thin lines to make a sort of on-the-ground balance beam to help work on precision riding. 

Ride to Geocache Locations

Have you ever gone Geocaching?  It can be a lot of fun and even a little bit addictive.  There are even Geocaches in hard-to-reach places like bike trails that normal Geocachers can’t get to, which makes this an excellent activity for cyclists.  What is it, you ask?  It’s a game where you use GPS coordinates (and your phone) to guide you to hidden compartments that contain a log book for you to sign and sometimes an object for you to trade with.  Always bring a pen with you to sign the log book as some compartments are too tiny to hold a pen.  For objects to trade, think small: a friendship bracelet, charm, keychain, or small plastic toy can all be Geocache treasures to trade for what you find in the compartment, if it has something for you to trade with.  Learn more here: https://www.geocaching.com/play.

Ride to Rewards

If Geocaching isn’t your idea of a treasure hunt, think of something worth riding for, like ice cream or a fancy doughnut.  Call up some friends or grab your family and ride to a local boutique with your favorite treat.  Afterall, it’s National Bike Month and that’s something worth celebrating with ice cream! 

Make it a Game

If you’ve got a group of kids, there are lots of great bike activity games out there you can play.  You can play music and all riders must freeze when it stops, or cycle in a line and play copy-cat with the leader of the line.  There are 20 games outlined in this PDF we found: https://www.cyklistforbundet.dk/media/mksfflaz/cykellege_bog_engelsk_4.pdf

Whatever you do, have fun!  We like to think ever month is bike month, but really, May is our National Bike Month and it’s time to get your bike prepped and go out there are ride! 

What you Need to Know About California Assembly Bill from a Bicycle Accident Lawyer’s Perspective

California Assembly Bill Number 122 was introduced in December of 2020 but has undergone some amendments in March and May of 2021, as is typical in the lifecycle of an Assembly Bill.  Here’s what you need to know about Assembly Bill 122 to limit bicycle accidents from a bicycle accident lawyer’s perspective. 

First, it’s important to know that more than a dozen bicycle advocacy organizations support the Bill across the state of California, including MCBC (Marin County Bicycle Coalition, an organization focused on bicycle safety which we support).  Also, other states already have similar vehicle codes in place, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Arkansas, and Delaware, which means AB 122 is not a new concept. 

What does AB 122 Change?

If passed, California Assembly Bill Number 122 would change the vehicle code in California to allow bicyclists to treat Stop signs as they would a Yield sign.  This increases bicycle rider safety and decreases bicycle accidents, which has been demonstrated in studies in Idaho (who was first to create the stop-as-yield law) and Delaware.  In 2008, an investigation was conducted locally by the San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which has added to the data on this subject.  In 2009, a study of Idaho conducted by J. Meggs at UC Berkeley showed a decrease of 14.5% in bicyclist injuries after the passage of the new law. 

As bicycle accident lawyers, we support new systems which reduce the rate of bicyclist injuries. 

What does AB 122 Not Change?

California Assembly Bill Number 122 is not a free license to blow through stop signs all the time or every time.  Bicyclists will still obey red traffic lights and treat them as a full stop.  Bicyclists will also still give the right-of-way to pedestrians who always have the right of way.  And bicyclists will continue to stop at stop signs when there is traffic with the right-of-way.

Intersections are Dangerous for Cyclists

While according to the NHTSA, most bicyclist fatalities occur away from intersections in 45- and 55-mph zones, most bicyclist injuries occur in 25-mph zones where intersections and stop signs are most prevalent.  Bicycle accidents do often happen at intersections and the UC Berkley study calls intersections the “most dangerous zone” for bicyclists.  Reducing injury rates by 14.5 % would be a great step in the right direction. 

free san francisco personal injury lawyer consultation

When Adding Bike Lanes Actually Reduces Traffic Delays

In New York, smart street design helped the city have its safety and its speed, too. 

A great article on Mother Jones about “level of service” and how California is a state that is leading the charge against it. “Level of Service” is the argument against implementing bike lanes for fear that less road space for cars will cause more traffic and delays. Mother Jones explains a new report by the New York City Department of Transportation which shows car traffic can be maintained while increasing rider safety.

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/09/adding-bike-lanes-reduces-traffic-delays-new-york-city

 

The Status of Bay Area Bike Share

bikeshare

(Source: http://thecityfix.com/blog/bike-sharing-the-newest-mode-of-public-transport/)

Happy belated one-year anniversary to Bay Area Bike Share!

Unfortunately, financial problems at the program’s operator and supplier have held up plans to add bikes and locations. According to representatives of SFMTA, the response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive, and is considered a success. The system has 5,000 annual members and 28,000 “casual” members with the bikes being used an average of 3 times a day.

Despite the popularity, reported success and plans for expansion, the program is facing financial problems. The city currently has approved funding to add 1,000 more bikes system wide to 17 new locations, including stations the Castro and the Mission. On top of that, the SFMTA is seeking $25 million in private funding in order to add 3,000 more bikes at 250 more stations. However, talks with private companies are stalled because Bay Are Bike Sharing’s bike and bike software supplier—Public Bike System Company (PBSC)—has filed for bankruptcy and been sold to another company.

Regardless, it seems that expansion of the program is going to happen, but it might not be as fast as SF bike riders want or need.

If you ever need a bicycle accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

(Source: http://ww2.kqed.org/news/2014/08/29/bay-area-bike-share-expansion-stalls/

Three Feet for Safety Act

Three-Feet-for-Safety-Act (Source: http://theavtimes.com/2014/09/15/three-feet-for-safety-act-takes-effect-tuesday/)

This is the moment all bicycle advocates have been waiting for- after years of joined effort by advocates, the “Three Feet for Safety Act” signed by Governor Jerry Brown finally came into effect September 16, 2014. This act ensures that motor vehicle drivers give bicyclists at least three feet of space when passing them. The following are the newly implemented rules in the “Three Feet for Safety Act”:

21760. (a) This section shall be known and may be cited as the Three Feet for Safety Act.

(b) The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall pass in compliance with the requirements of this article applicable to overtaking and passing a vehicle, and shall do so at a safe distance that does not interfere with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle, having due regard for the size and speed of the motor vehicle and the bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and the surface and width of the highway.

(c) A driver of a motor vehicle shall not overtake or pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway at a distance of less than three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator.

(d) If the driver of a motor vehicle is unable to comply with subdivision (c), due to traffic or roadway conditions, the driver shall slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent, and may pass only when doing so would not endanger the safety of the operator of the bicycle, taking into account the size and speed of the motor vehicle and bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and surface and width of the highway.

(e) (1) A violation of subdivision (b), (c), or (d) is an infraction punishable by a fine of thirty–five dollars ($35).

(2) If a collision occurs between a motor vehicle and a bicycle causing bodily injury to the operator of the bicycle, and the driver of the motor vehicle is found to be in violation of subdivision (b), (c), or (d), a two –hundred–twenty–dollar ($220) fine shall be imposed on that driver.

(f) This section shall become operative on September 16, 2014.

Added Sec. 3, Ch. 331, Stats. 2013. Effective September 16, 2014.

As a rider and supporter of the biking community, Shaana Rahman anticipates that the “Three Feet for Safety Act” will aid in making San Francisco a truly bike-friendly city.

If you ever need a bicycle accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

(Source: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21760.htm)

Study Confirms Cyclists Feel Safer in Bike Lanes

 

Protected-Bike-Lanes-Mean-Business-e1398201572990

(Source: http://www.sfbike.org/news/protected-bike-lanes-mean-business-in-sf-and-around-the-country/)

This June, the National Institute for Transportation and Communities released the final report of the first intensive study conducted on “Evaluating Protected Bike Lanes in the U.S.” The growing presence of various bike-friendly communities around the U.S.  and consequently  increasing bike traffic undoubtedly led the institute to compile and evaluate data that will aid in developing safer biking communities.

The study included data that examines protected bicycle lanes from five cities: Austin, TX; Chicago, IL; Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; and Washington, D.C. This study purports to indicate the effects of protected bike lanes through surveys, video observation of ridership and interaction between bicyclists, motor vehicle drivers and pedestrians. The study gives strong indication that the vast majority (approximately 91%) of residents in a particular city support the presence of bike lanes: “residents and bicyclists indicated that any type of buffer shows a considerable increase in self-reported comfort levels over a striped bike lane…”  The following are few of the various data revealed in the report:

  • Nearly all cyclists (92%) who used the intersections with separate bicycle signal phases agreed that they felt “safe” when riding through the intersection. This exceeded all other intersection designs and is the only design evaluated where the protected lane carries all the way to the intersection.
  • Designs with more physical separation had the highest scores for cyclist comfort. Buffers with objects (e.g. flexposts, planters, curbs, or parked cars) had higher comfort levels than buffers created only with paint
  • Nearly every intercepted bicyclist (96%) and 79% of residents stated that the installation of the protected lane increased the safety of bicycling on the street. These strong perceptions of improved safety did not vary substantially between the cities, despite the different designs used.
  • Three in four residents (75%) said they would support building more protected bike lanes at other locations. This support was strong even among residents who reported “car/truck” as their primary commute mode —69% agreement).
  • Overall, 91% of surveyed residents agreed with the statement “I support separating bikes from cars”. This includes primary users of all modes (driving, walking, transit, and bicycling).

The report is full of data that generally indicate one clear message: Protected bike lanes are good and wanted by not only bikers, but also by pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers. This report is extensive in its research and, fortunately, includes surveys conducted on our very own San Francisco residents, solidifying the reasons why this city’s movement for a more bike-friendly environment is not for nothing.

 

(Source:  http://ppms.otrec.us/media/project_files/NITC-RR-583_ProtectedLanes_FinalReportb.pdf)

Bay Area Bike Share Coming to Life

The Bay Area Bike Sharing Program set to launch in August is slowly, but surely coming to life. The company that is managing the program, Alta, and the SFMTA recently released a series of infographics containing a wealth of information about the system including information about the bikes, the pricing and the structure of the stations. The release of information coincided with the New York City bike-sharing launch. New York’s 6,000 bike Citi Bike program, managed by the same company handling the Bay Area’s system, has been an early success. The Bay Area’s 350 bike program will be starting at a much smaller scale, but advocates hope that it will expand quickly. For now, advocates of the system and potential patrons can prepare for the August launch by commenting on the initial launch sites and providing input for future expansions and additional stations at the SF Bike Share Sites website, by getting all of the detailed information about the project in this online PDF Guide, and by attending the June 14th SFMTA Public Hearing on the Station Approvals to voice their opinions.

If you ever need a bicycle accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

Source: http://sf.streetsblog.org/2013/05/31/meet-bay-area-bikeshare/

Section of Market Street to Receive Much Needed Repair this Weekend

This weekend starting today, Friday June 7, at 7:00pm the Department of Public Works will re-pave a section of Market Street between Van Ness Avenue and Sixth Street. The DPW estimates that the work will last 24 hours.

This much-needed repaving, the first in about 30 years, is the first in a series of re-pavings on Market Street. The next section scheduled to get a much-needed makeover is between Steuart and Third streets. Then the section of Market between Third and Sixth. The repairs are tentatively scheduled for June 21-22 and mid-July respectively.

“This will be a major improvement to the city’s most important bicycling street,” said SF Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum in a statement. “For the growing number of people biking on Market Street — whether traveling to work or connecting to regional transit or visiting neighborhoods connected by our city’s main artery — this repaving could not come soon enough.”

Logistics:

The repaving will only be to the outer lanes of Market Street (those used by cyclists). According to Sfstreetsblog, ‘During construction, bikes, automobiles and trucks will be detoured off of Market. Muni and other public transit vehicles will still run in Market’s center lanes, and all boardings will take place on the center islands.’

If you ever need a bicycle accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

Source:

http://sf.streetsblog.org/2013/06/05/dpw-to-re-pave-a-major-stretch-of-market-street-this-weekend/

Bike to Work and Improve Your Health and Well-Being

Biking to work has numerous health benefits. Most people are aware of this fact, but few people can visualize what this really means. America Bikes, the nationwide cycling advocacy group, has compiled a series of graphics to really put biking into perspective. Here are a few of the most powerful (for the full article and all of the infographics go to AmericaBikes.org):