Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with Bike Bakersfield to give away hundreds of bicycle lights, safety helmets this fall

October 18, 2017 | 9:26 am


At least 30 pedestrians and bicyclists in Kern County have lost their lives in roadway accidents in 2017. Many of them were not properly illuminated during night hours.

As part of its mission to reduce the number of accidents in our community, Bike Bakersfield – in partnership with Chain | Cohn | Stiles and Kern Family Health Care – will be giving away hundreds of free bicycle lights and over 100 safety helmets throughout Kern County over several weeks starting this Thursday, Oct. 19.

“Project Light Up The Night” is Bike Bakersfield’s annual program that delivers sets of free bicycle lights in parts of our community where bicycles are used the most – Oildale, Arvin, east Bakersfield, and southeast Bakersfield. This year, free safety helmets of all sizes will also be provided thanks to support from the law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Bike Bakersfield staff and volunteers will install lights for immediate use, and educate bicyclists on how to properly fit and adjust helmets. One set of lights and one helmet will be given per person with his or her bicycle present.

“Many cyclists still ride at night without lights, a practice that is illegal and life-threatening. And with the sun setting early this time of year, it is important that bicyclists be visible on the roadway,” said Jack Becker, Bike Bakersfield program manager. “Being visible to motorists is a key part of staying safe while riding a bicycle on the road, and these bright LED lights will let drivers know you’re there.”

For Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which often sees victims of vehicle versus bicycle accidents, providing safety equipment to children and adult bike riders who otherwise cannot afford one is just one key step toward improving safety on our roadways. The law firm for several years now has partnered with Bike Bakersfield in its “Kidical Mass” bike repair, safety demonstration, a group bike ride program, as well as the safety light and helmet giveaway.

“We hope these programs led by Bike Bakersfield not only helps raise awareness of the importance of bicycle safety and sharing the road with all vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists, but also will help decrease the number of injuries caused by crashes here in Kern County,” said David Cohn, managing partner and veteran personal injury attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

If you are a bicycle rider in need of a bicycle light or safety helmet, please take note of the following details to collect yours:

  • WHAT: Bike Bakersfield’s “Project Light Up The Night”
  • WHO: All residents who arrive with a bicycle are eligible for free lights and a helmet
  • WHEN: From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays (Oct. 19, Oct. 26, Nov. 2 and Nov. 9)
  • WHERE: Four locations: Corner of Roberts Lane and N. Chester Avenue in Oildale; Niles Street and Mount Vernon Avenue in east Bakersfield; Planz Park in south Bakersfield; and Bike Arvin in Arvin. Click here to view a map for locations.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Back-to-school tips: For students and parents, getting to and from campus safely should be top priority

August 9, 2017 | 9:24 am


With the close of each summer comes the return of school, including back-to-school shopping, hectic schedules, sports, and seemingly never-ending homework.

In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently helped our local students get in the school spirit as a sponsor of Childspree, which takes hundreds of underprivileged children back-to-school shopping at Kohl’s. The annual program organized by the Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club provides students with a backpack full of school supplies and $125 for clothes. Volunteers, including Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorneys and staff, helped the students pick out new digs.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles takes this time of the year to remind parents and students to keep safety at the top of mind.

“Whether its students who are walking, cycling or taking the bus to school, parents dropping off their children, or other pedestrians and drivers around school campuses, safety should always be the top priority,” said David K. Cohn, managing partner for Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “We want everyone to arrive to class, and back home, safely.”

Here are a few helpful safety tips for parents and students alike:

 

STROLL TO SCHOOL

  • Map a safe way for your children to walk to school or to the bus stop. Always use sidewalks or walking paths.
  • Check for moving cars at driveways and intersections.
  • Obey all traffic signs and crossing guards.
  • Cross streets safely. Stop at the curb or edge of the street; look left, right, left and behind you for traffic; wait until no traffic is coming and begin crossing; keep looking for traffic until you have finished crossing; walk and don’t run across the street; and don’t use your phone when crossing the street.
  • Work with other parents in the neighborhood to ensure that children in the neighborhood are supervised closely to and from school. Also, identify “safe houses,” homes of neighbors who your child is familiar with if your child is scared or needs help on the way to and from school.
  • Point out places they should avoid, such as vacant lots, alleyways and construction areas.
  • Encourage your children to use the “buddy system.”
  • Teach children to always be aware of their surroundings. Be aware of slow moving vehicles or parked vehicles that appear to be occupied.
  • Parents should also make sure the child knows his or her phone number, address, how to get in touch with a parent at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult, and how to dial 9-1-1.

 

CYCLING TO CLASS

  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Ride in the direction of traffic.
  • Watch for opening car doors.
  • Wear bright clothing to help drivers see you.
  • Install reflectors on the rear, front, pedals and spokes.
  • Install lights on the front and back of your bike.

 

WHEELS ON THE BUS

If children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand back from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive. Other safety tips include:

  • Wait to board the bus until it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has signaled to get on.
  • Tell children they should only board their bus, and never an alternate one.
  • Always stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.
  • Cross the street at the corner, obey traffic signals and stay in the crosswalk.
  • Never dart out into the street, or cross between parked cars.

For more school bus safety information, check out this previous Blogging for Justice blog post on the subject.

 

DRIVING

If children ride in a car to get to school, they should always wear a seat belt. Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.

If a teenager is driving to school, parents should mandate that he or she use seat belts. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls, and should avoid eating or drinking while driving.

As for parents and other drivers, it’s important to remember the following:

  • Obey the traffic laws.
  • Follow the ingress and egress patterns at your school.
  • If you want to avoid an unpleasant interaction with law enforcement, leave early, follow the rules of the road and be courteous.
  • If you want to walk your child to his or her classroom, park off-site so you are not creating a traffic jam.
  • Drivers should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean and be aware that children are out walking or biking to school and slow down – especially in residential areas and school zones. Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is getting ready to stop and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off. Drivers in both directions must stop their vehicles and wait until the lights go off, the stop sign is back in place, and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.
  • Pull into a passenger loading zone for drop-off. If there is no passenger loading zone or any space available, park in a legal parking space farther away.
  • Drop your child off at the curb on the school side of the street rather than crossing into incoming traffic or having your child run across the street.
  • Don’t park in the loading zone or in a school bus zone. Also, never double park; this creates an unsafe situation for children who are often difficult to see between cars.

For more school-related safety tips — including at school safety and bullying prevention advice — visit a previous Chain | Cohn | Stiles blog post here.

— Alyssa Wood for Chain | Cohn | Stiles contributed to this article

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If you or someone you know is injured to and from school at the fault of someone else, contact the accident and injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Two-wheeled transportation safety tips for bike, motorcycle month and beyond

May 31, 2017 | 10:18 am


May is National Bike Month as well as National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, where we celebrate the benefits of riding on two wheels, while remembering the dangers of doing so and measures to help keep everyone as safe as possible.

California is ranked No. 4 in the United States for percentage of commuters who bike to work, according to the 2016 Benchmarking Report by the Alliance for Walking & Biking. California was also above the state average in commuters who walk, bike or take public transit to work, and in getting 150 minutes or more of aerobic exercise.

But the increase of people enjoying life on two wheels has unfortunately led to an increase of bicycle and motorcycle accidents on our roadways.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 818 bicycle fatalities in 2015 in the United States, which was a 12 percent rise from the previous year. Nearly 40 percent of all these fatalities were influenced by alcohol. To combat this disturbing trend, California has passed legislation, including the “Move Over Law” which requires motorists to have a 3-foot space from cyclists. Read more about that law here.

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we believe we should all share the road, and be extra careful when driving around motorcyclist and bicyclists.

Our law firm has been a proud partner of Bike Bakersfield, whose mission it is to promote bicycling as a safe, fun and environmentally-friendly means of everyday transportation. Recently, Chain | Cohn | Stiles served as a sponsor for Project Light Up The Night, where volunteers hand out hundreds of free bicycle lights in various locations throughout Bakersfield. The law firm also donated 100 safety helmets to east Bakersfield students during a Bike Bakersfield “Kidical Mass,” which featured bike repairs, safety demonstrations, and a group bike ride.

We ask you, the reader, to take responsibility in making sure our roadways are safe for cyclist and motorist alike. Here are a few tips on how we can make cycling, riding and driving in Bakersfield safer and more enjoyable:

Rules of the Road for All

  • Know the Rules of the Road: Bicycles and motorcycles are considered vehicles on the road with all the rights and responsibilities of automobiles.
  • Be Predictable: Ride in a straight line, use signal turns, and signal lane changes.
  • Be Easily Seen: Dress “bright and tight,” which means being seen, and not getting tangled up in your bike.
  • Think Ahead: Anticipate what other motorists will do next, whether it’s turning, braking or accelerating.
  • Ride Ready: Make sure everything on your bicycle is in working condition.
  • Ride and Drive Focused: Never ride or drive distracted.
  • Safety First: Always wear a helmet when on a bicycle or motorcycle, and a seat belt when in a vehicle. A DOT certified helmet is recommended for riders. Cyclists should consider a horn or bell to get others’ attention, as well as reflectors. Motorcyclists should make sure headlights and taillights are in working order, too.
  • Alcohol and Drug-Free: Never get behind the wheel (or wheels) under the influence of any substance.

For more bicycle and motorcycle safety tips, click here to read previous Blogging for Justice posts related to two-wheel safety.

 

— Michael Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles as soon as possible at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles-sponsored ‘Project Light Up The Night’ focuses on bicycle safety

November 30, 2016 | 9:36 am


The sun begins to set on the streets of Bakersfield well before 5 p.m. these days, making safety paramount for those exercising, walking their pets, or driving about in the evening hours.

For bicyclists, in particular, the nighttime can pose a significant risk. It’s important for drivers to be aware of cyclists sharing the road with them, but also for bike riders to have the proper safety equipment and be easily seen.

Bike Bakersfield — in partnership with Bakersfield-based injury and accident law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles and PG&E — are hoping to make Kern County’s roads a little safer for drivers and cyclists alike through the Project Light Up The Night, where volunteers hand out hundreds of free bicycle lights in various locations throughout Bakersfield.

The giveaways will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday (except Dec. 14) until Jan. 25. Riders must bring their bikes to receive one set of lights per person. The four distribution locations are as follows:

  • Bike Bakersfield: 1708 Chester Ave.
  • Corner of Niles Street and Mt. Vernon Avenue
  • Corner of North Chester Avenue and Roberts Lane
  • Planz Park: Planz Road and South H Street

In California, the law states that any cyclist riding at night needs to have a white headlamp, a red rear reflector, white or yellow reflectors on the pedals, and white or yellow reflectors on each side. But when it comes to night riding, it pays to go well beyond the law to make your bike noticeable. A blinking red light, for example, is much more likely to get the attention of a passing motorist who might otherwise not notice you.

In Bakersfield, the Bakersfield Police Department has also joined the battle to make our community safer for cyclists. The department recently was awarded a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety for a year-long program for bicycle and pedestrian safety and education to prevent traffic related deaths and injuries. The number of people killed has climbed nearly 17 percent across the state with 3,176 killed in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Particularly alarming is the six year rise in pedestrian and bicycle fatalities.

For those cycling at night, Chain | Cohn | Stiles wishes to provide you with the following additional safety tips:

  • Have multiple lights, varying from ones that alert other road users to your presence to lights that are strong enough to illuminate the road ahead. LED technology has transformed cycle lights.
  • Don’t ride in the gutter when riding in the dark as this is where the majority of road debris will go.
  • Remember to take spares on a night ride. Riding in the dark could hide hazards such as potholes and broken glass that can cause punctures or other mechanical problems.
  • Plan your route.
  • Ride with fellow cyclists so you can be seen more easily.
  • Don’t assume you have been seen by other road users.
  • Be prepared for mechanical issues. Make sure to carry enough tools, including spare inner tubes.
  • Wear bright colors such as white and yellow instead of black to make yourself more visible.

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If you or someone you know is involved in a bicycle accident at the fault of someone else, please contact the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com to submit a contact form.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Safety tips for all during National Bike Month and beyond

May 25, 2016 | 10:23 am


Each May, the League of American Bicyclist reminds us all during National Bike Month of the many, many benefits of bicycling, and encourage more of us to give biking a try.

National Bike Month is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride,” according to the organization founded way back in 1880.

And whether you bike to work or school, ride to save money or time, to preserve your health or the environment, or simply to explore your community, safety is always of the utmost importance.

Kern County in recent years has seen far too many bicycle related accidents resulting in severe injuries and even death.

In 2013, the most recent statistics available, Bakersfield saw nearly 100 victims killed or injured on a bicycle, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety. Pedestrians accounted for another 140 injuries and fatalities, and motorcyclist numbered 60.

With this year’s annual observation coming to a close, Chain | Cohn | Stiles wants to remind all — pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists — to share the roadways with each other every day and all year. For bicyclists, in particular, here are a few quick safety tips to keep in mind before hoping on those wheels.

A-B-C

Before getting on your bicycle, remember A, B, C.

  • A is for Air: Inflate tires to the pressure listed on the side of the tire. Use a pressure gauge to insure proper pressure Check for damage on tired and replace if damaged
  • B is for Brakes: Inspect pads for wear. Replace if there is less than 14-inch of pad left. Check pad adjustment. Make sure they do not rub the tire. Look to see that you can fit your thumb between the brake lever handlebar when the brakes are squeezed all the way
  • C is for cranks and chain: Pull your cranks away from the bike – if they are loose, tighten the bolt. Check your that your chain is free of rust and gunk.

BE A ‘ROLL MODEL’

Being a “roll model” means:

  • Riding and driving focused: Never distracted.
  • Riding and driving prepared: Always expect the unexpected.
  • Putting safety first: We never know when a crash will occur, regardless of skill level or age. Always wear a bicycle helmet when on a bicycle and a seat belt when in a car.
  • Following the rules of the road: A bicyclist is considered a vehicle on the road with all the rights on the roadway and responsibilities of motorized traffic. Expect law enforcement officers to monitor and address unsafe behaviors between motorists and bicyclists that put bicyclists at risk.
  • Share the road: Both vehicle drivers (motorist and bicyclist) should look out for one another and show mutual respect.

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If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle accident, call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with Bike Bakersfield, Children First Campaign in bike safety event for kids

August 25, 2015 | 11:21 am


With school back in session for students throughout Kern County, the roads are busy with buses picking up and dropping off kids at school, parents dropping off their children, and students walking to campuses. Many students also ride their bikes to school.

With so much activity on Bakersfield and Kern County roadways, it’s important for everyone to share the road and be cautious of others.

In an effort to keep the roadways as safe as possible for students who happen to cycle to school, the Bakersfield personal injury and workers’ compensation* law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles has partnered with local nonprofits Bike Bakersfield and Children First Campaign to host a “Kidical Mass” event from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Aug. 29, at Williams Elementary School, 1201 Williams St. in east Bakersfield.

The event will feature bike repairs, safety demonstrations, a group bike ride and a barbecue lunch. Chain | Cohn | Stiles has also donated 100 safety helmets for students and bike riders who may be in need of the safety equipment.

Many of the students who attend Williams Elementary and area Bakersfield City School District schools in east Bakersfield come from low-income households, and may not be able to purchase proper safety equipment, including helmets, said Jorge Barrientos, director of marketing and public relations at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

“There are too many accidents in our community that involve bicycles,” Barrientos said. “Hopefully this event with help raise awareness to help better protect our students, and keep them safe.”

KBAK-KBFX Eyewitness News previewed the event during its morning shows recently, which included representatives from Bike Bakersfield, Children First Campaign and attorney Matthew Clark of Chain | Cohn | Stiles. To see the complete coverage of the news preview, including photos and videos of the segment, click on the Little John Photo blog here.

Kidical Mass, first held in 2008 in Eugene, Oregon, is a safe and fun bike ride for kids, kids at heart, and their families. Bike Bakersfield, whose mission it is to promote bicycling as a safe, fun and environmentally-friendly means of everyday transportation, decided to host its very own Kidical Mass to help improve the biking experience in our local communities, said Bike Bakersfield executive director Jason Cater. This year’s Kidical Mass is also focused on teaching children safe riding habits while having fun on their bikes.

Also joining Bike Bakersfield is the Children First Campaign, which aims to ensure all children live in healthy, safe, and nurturing neighborhoods that promote academic achievement and success, and to counter the negative influences of drugs, crime, violence and poverty.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ attorneys, along with Bike Bakersfield and Children First Campaign representatives, will be on the Williams Elementary campus teaching students proper safety rules and protocols. The event is free and open to the public. Students in need of bike tune-ups, safety equipment and safety lessons are encouraged to attend.

For more bike and school safety tips and information, please read previous bloggingforjustice.com blog posts below:

— By Jessica Magee for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles gave out 100 bike helmets to children in east Bakersfield on Aug. 29. Each child was fitted properly for his and her helmet, and given a safety lesson on the rules of the road. To see photos and news videos of the event, click the links below.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a bicycle accident, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000 or visit the website chainlaw.com.

New California driving law mandates 3 feet for cyclist safety

September 19, 2014 | 11:14 am


It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3 — and it can decrease accidents, injuries and potentially save lives.

A new California law took effect this week that requires drivers to give bicyclists at least 3 feet space as they pass them on the roads. It’s called the “Three Feet for Safety Act,” which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September 2013 and went into effect on Tuesday.

Violators of the new will be fined $35 if they drive too close to a bicyclist. A $220 fine will be imposed if a cyclist is injured when a driver is violating the 3-foot buffer.

More than 150 cyclists in California were killed in collisions with cars in 2012, according to the Los Angeles Times. And in Los Angeles County, nearly 5,000 cyclists were killed or injured in traffic accidents that same year.

Previous California laws did not specify a safe distance from bicyclists. Now, California is the 24th state to enact a 3-foot passing law. Pennsylvania requires at least 4 feet between cars and bikes. Go here to see a map of all participating states.

Public safety officials — including the California Highway Patrol — advise drivers to slow down near bicyclists, pay attention, check their blind spots and have patience for others. And drivers are reminded that bicyclists can have the right to take control of a full lane of traffic if there are unsafe conditions in bike lanes, or if conditions are unsafe for drivers to pass them.

Bicyclists, too, are reminded about proper safety measures. The California Department of Motor Vehicles, for example, provides several safety tips. They include:

  • Maintain control of your bicycle.
  • Protect yourself–reduce the risk of head injury by always wearing a helmet.
  • Be visible, alert, and communicate your intentions.
  • Ride with traffic.

A rule of thumb for distinguishing if you’re too close to a cyclist while driving: if the bicyclist can reach out his or her arm and touch your vehicle, you’re most likely closer than 3 feet.

Here are some more details on how the law works:

  • The law applies to any place a vehicle passes a bicyclist, regardless of whether there’s a bike lane.
  • A law enforcement officer must witness a violation to issue a fine.
  • One exception: If there is not enough room for a driver to give 3 feet of space, the driver must first slow down before safely passing.

Other rules drivers and cyclists should know, include:

  • Bicyclist can wear earphones or headphones, but must have one ear open to traffic at all times.
  • Riding while talking on a cell phone is permitted.

For more information on bike safety, check out these websites for more resources:

And remember, if you’re ever injured in an accident while riding your bicycle, call the Bakersfield accident and injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000 or visit the website Chainlaw.com.

Bike race, sponsored by CCS, to roll through streets of Bakersfield

May 16, 2014 | 11:37 am


As mentioned in a previous blog post, May is National Bike Month, as well as National Bike Safety Month.

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we believe in bicycle safety, and several of the Bakersfield personal injury lawyers and employees at the law firm are bike enthusiasts and practice safety measures each time they hop on their bicycles. It’s also important for a community business, like ours, to support community programs and events.

Combining bike safety with community support, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is sponsoring the De VleesHuis race on Saturday, May 17, as well as the 2014 Downtown Criterium on Sunday, May 18.

Saturday’s De VleesHuis, slugged as “a road race for the strong,” will be a 30-mile loop through Bakersfield, with easy flats, a long stead climb and some puncher climbs in between the flats and back to the finish, according to even organizers. It will reach an elevation of nearly 2,500 feet. To see the route, go HERE.

The Downtown Criterium will be held on Sunday, and will feature Formula One style bike racing on Bakersfield’s city streets. The four-corner rectangle course will deliver a fun, exciting race around a downtown Bakersfield park venue. The course is .8 miles.

The family-friendly event will feature music, a kid’s race, food and “the fastest race in Kern County,” event organizers said. It is being sponsored and hosted by Bike Bakersfield, USA Cycling and, of course, Chain | Cohn | Stiles, among others.

For more on the events, visit SamBarn Promotions, which is putting on the event, or Bike Bakersfield, a local nonprofit bicycle advocacy group.

If you are planning to ride your bicycle throughout Bakersfield this weekend, please keep in mind these bicycle safety tips, courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

  • Ride and drive focused, never distracted.
  • Ride and drive prepared; always expect the unexpected.
  • Put safety first; we never know when a crash will occur, regardless of skill level or age; always wear a bicycle helmet when on a bicycle and a seat belt when in a car.
  • Follow the rules of the road; a bicyclist is considered a vehicle on the road with all the rights on the roadway and responsibilities of motorized traffic.
  • Expect law enforcement officers to monitor and address unsafe behaviors between motorists and bicyclists that put bicyclists at risk.
  • Share the road; both vehicle drivers (motorist and bicyclist) should look out for one another and show mutual respect.

For more resources related to bicycle safety and what to do in case of an bicycle accident, including Frequently Asked Questions, go HERE.

Cycle safe in May, National Bike Month

May 12, 2014 | 9:38 am


The weather is beautiful. Gas prices are sky high. It’s all the more reason to get out in May and celebrate National Bike Month in Bakersfield. But before you hit the road, keep in mind that May is also Bicycle Safety Month.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has kicked off the “Be a Roll Model” campaign, aimed to encourage everyone to model safe behaviors to enhance the safety of all road users, including those who bicycle. The message: we can all play a part in being a “Roll Model” to decrease the risks of traffic crashes and preventable injuries and deaths.

The safety administration is inviting everyone to adopt this campaign to do the right (safe) thing when riding or driving around bicycles. Being a Role Model means:

  • Riding and driving focused, never distracted.
  • Riding and driving prepared; always expect the unexpected.
  • Putting safety first; we never know when a crash will occur, regardless of skill level or age; always wear a bicycle helmet when on a bicycle and a seat belt when in a car.
  • Following the rules of the road; a bicyclist is considered a vehicle on the road with all the rights on the roadway and responsibilities of motorized traffic.
  • Expecting law enforcement officers to monitor and address unsafe behaviors between motorists and bicyclists that put bicyclists at risk.
  • Sharing the road; both vehicle drivers (motorist and bicyclist) should look out for one another and show mutual respect.

National Bike Month is sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast, including in Bakersfield and Kern County. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling, and encourage others to giving biking a try.

The campaign is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride, whether it’s biking to work or school, riding to save money or time, pumping those pedals to preserve your health or the environment, or simply to explore your community.

Closer to home, the California Highway Patrol is aiming to educate motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians about the rules of the road in an effort to reduce bicycle-involved collisions.

As of Sept. 16, California drivers will be required to give bicyclists three feet of clearance or slow down and pass when it would not endanger a bicyclist’s safety. The campaign suggests bicyclists wear a helmet and drivers wear a seat belt.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 142 bicyclists killed in California in 2011 and they accounted for five percent of the total collision fatalities in the state, The Bakersfield Californian reported.

And in March, according to The Californian, the California Household Travel Survey found that the number of California residents walking, biking or using public transportation in a typical day has more than doubled since 2000.

Also, Bike Bakersfield, a Bakersfield nonprofit bicycle advocacy group — whose mission it is to promote bicycling as a safe, fun and environmentally friendly means of everyday transportation — is hosting a number of events during Bike Month. For a list, go HERE.

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we believe in bicycle safety. In fact, several of the Bakersfield personal injury lawyers and employees at the law firm practice safety measures each time they hop on their bicycles.

Sadly, accidents still happen even after taking proper safety measures. We’ve developed a list of questions and answers related to bicycle accidents. If you are ever in a bicycle accident, be sure to keep these answers and tips in mind. And for more resources related to bicycle accidents, including more questions and answers, see our Frequently Asked Questions section HERE.

If I am injured while riding my bicycle, can I sue the driver that hit me?

Yes, as long as you can establish that the driver was at fault.

Can I still bring a lawsuit against the driver if I was doing something I was not supposed to, such as riding on the wrong side of the street, not wearing a helmet or not having proper lights or reflectors at night?

Yes. You can bring a lawsuit as long as you can prove that the driver or some other person or entity was at fault. The bicyclist has the same duties and responsibilities on roadways as a motor vehicle driver. Further, there are some additional special requirements for bicyclists. Adult bicyclists are not required by law to wear helmets, although a jury can still find you negligent for not wearing a helmet even if you are an adult. Further, not following the law by riding on the wrong side of the road or not having proper gear to ride at night can, and often will be found to be negligent behavior on your part. However, a bicyclist’s negligence does not eliminate their ability to sue another party; it simply reduces the recovery by the percentage of their fault.

 My child was injured or killed while riding his bicycle. What are our rights?

Children, particularly young children, are not held to the same standard of care for their own safety as adults. Thus, drivers must be more cautious when they know that children riding bicycles are in the area. Even if your child was negligent, you may be able to recover against anyone responsible for causing the accident, including the driver of the vehicle that hit your child.

 I was riding my bicycle when I rode over a pothole which threw me off my bike and caused a serious head injury. Do I have a case?

Yes. You have a potential case. If you can establish that public or private property was in a dangerous condition and that it was foreseeable that someone would be riding a bicycle over that property, you will be able to bring a case. However, to win the case you must prove that the possessor or owner of the property created, knew, or should have known, about the dangerous condition on the property and failed to repair or warn of the danger.

What damages are recoverable in bicycle accident cases?

A Plaintiff is entitled to recover damages for past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, past and future pain and suffering, and if it is deemed that conduct is bad enough, punitive damages (i.e., punishment damages against the defendant). If the bicyclist dies, his or her survivors are entitled to recover full compensation for their economic losses that result from the bicyclist’s death as well as emotional distress damages which stem from the loss of society, care and comfort of the decedent. If the survivors can prove that the bicyclist lived for a period of time between the negligent act and death, they can also bring an action for punitive damages.

How soon do I need to bring a case after a bicycle accident?

A Bicycle Accidents and/or wrongful death action, under California law, must be brought within two years of the date of the accident, if the accident occurred on or after January 1, 2003; and one year from the date of the accident if the accident occurred prior to January 1, 2003.

In cases against public entities, a claim must be filed against the public entity within six months from the date of the accident. If the plaintiff is a minor, a minor has until their 19th birthday to bring case unless there is a government claim in which a minor should bring the claim within six months of the accident, or one year at the latest.

Will my bicycle accident case settle and does it make a difference if I hire an attorney?

It is always a good idea to consult or retain an attorney in a bicycle accident case because there usually will be some questions of comparative fault. In addition, expert witnesses may need to be retained to reconstruct the accident and help determine responsibility for the accident.