bikes everywhereWhile our news feeds are filled with many violent acts, none are more tragic than those that result in the death of an individual.  When these individuals are injured or killed at the hands of another, it is particularly sad. Recently, an article entitled “It it OK to Kill Cyclists?” made its way onto the headlines of the New York times opinion page.  The article was particularly striking as it highlighted the recent trend of police officers issuing tickets to motorists who had killed cyclists.

The author of the article, Daniel Duane, is quite witty and presents a disturbing viewp0int on the current trend in the cyclist/ automobile accident world.  The article lists several stories where cyclists have been killed (in a myriad of ways) and the driver has been given a small fine or no fine at all, even when the cyclist has been killed.  Many times the courts find the cyclist at fault when the automobile clearly hit the pedestrian, and the pedestrian suffered in the end (either through death or serious injury).The question of fault especially in a cyclist accident is always questionable.

The article also highlights several inconsistencies in accommodating cyclists on the road.  Many states have not done everything they can to provide adequate accommodations for cyclists, such as bike lanes and share the road laws.  Drivers subsequently become frustrated with cyclists who seem to clearly disregard drivers and do everything they can to frustrate them.  Does this mean that all cyclists are instantly at fault if they get hit?

The fact motorists are simply being ticketed in a cyclists death seems to suggest they are at fault. The article cites studies conducted in Arizona, Hawaii, and Minnesota that suggest that the fault on behalf of the cyclist is completely wrong, stating nearly half of all accidents are in all reality the motorists fault.  In many ways, the fact drivers are being ticketed and our justice system fails to provide any punishment if they have not been intoxicated or did not flee the scene, becomes incredibly upsetting to all who dabble in or care about cycling.

While the article is an opinion piece, it takes into account primary evidence from San Francisco’s bike coalition who stated they had never heard of a time when a driver was punished for hitting a cyclist who was not drunk.   Jurors also tend to identify with drivers more than cyclists because driving is a more common theme they share.

There is no easy answers to any of these questions or statements.  To claim that all cyclist/automobile accidents are the motorists fault is absurd and does not take into account the uniqueness of each situation.  The fact is that both drivers and cyclists must be aware of each other.  The general public must be aware of both parties and prevent any accidents that can occur.  There is no one specific way to do this, but our justice system has provided the means whereby this can be done.

If you have been injured in a cyclist accident and are need of a consultation, please contact us at Christensen and Hymas for a free confidential consultation.  We seek to give you the justice you deserve from your bills.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.