Orange County has the highest number of bicycle accidents and cyclist fatalities in all of California, bar Los Angeles County. Read on to learn what’s behind the Orange County bicycle accident statistics and how to stay safe while riding.
According to UC Berkeley’s California Active Transportation Safety Information Pages (CATSIP), there were 3,953 bicycle crashes in Orange County between 2017 and 2021. That’s the second-highest number of bicycle accidents in the state after Los Angeles County, which had 14,999 crashes.
During the same period, Orange County reported 73 bicyclist fatalities, ranking second after Los Angeles County with 177 bicycle deaths. The combined statistics for all counties make California the second most dangerous state for cyclists after Florida. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 129 bicyclist fatalities occurred in California in 2020 alone.
Not all bike crashes end in injuries, but when they do, the injuries can be catastrophic. Bicycle helmets and safety gear can only do so much. Cyclists lack the protections available to the average motor vehicle driver, such as airbags, seat belts, and a metal frame, so any bicycle accident is potentially fatal.
Common bicycle-related injuries in road accidents include:
The reasons behind the Orange County bicycle accident statistics are complex. Bike-sharing programs like Bike Nation, MetroBike, and B-Cycle likely contribute to the problem indirectly by making bike riding and bicycle use more widespread in urban areas.
The advent of e-bikes has also caused a sharp spike in bicyclist injuries and fatally injured bicyclists. In 2021, CBS News reported a 500% rise in e-bike accidents in Orange County in just one year. These accidents often cause more severe injuries than regular bicycle crashes because e-bikes can reach up to 28 miles per hour. That’s faster than the legal limit on many residential roadways in California.
Intoxicated riding and bicyclists not wearing helmets also spell trouble on the road. California law only requires minors to wear helmets. Helmet use is only recommended for adults aged 18 and above, tempting some cyclists to forego helmets.
Proper training, paying attention on the road, and taking reasonable precautions can help prevent bicycle accidents, non-fatal injuries, and cyclist deaths. Here are some proven bicycle safety tips to consider:
Keep your bike and all of its parts in good working order at all times. Regular maintenance is key to avoiding bicycle accidents. At a minimum, California law mandates that your bicycle can leave a one-brake wheel skid on a dry, clean, improved, and level surface.
Even though state law doesn’t require wearing a bike helmet if you’re an adult, consider wearing one nonetheless and ensure it meets the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI) safety standards. According to the BHSI, bike helmets reduce the risk of brain and head injury by 66 to 88% for any age group. Ensure your helmet is fitted correctly and wear it per the manufacturer’s directions.
If you cycle frequently, consider investing in bicycle safety equipment such as:
Cyclists must obey the same traffic laws as the drivers of motor vehicles. Familiarize yourself with your rights and responsibilities as a cyclist and learn to practice defensive riding while paying close attention to your surroundings.
Important bicycle traffic rules to keep in mind when cycling in Orange County include:
Always obey stop signs, red signal lights, and right-of-way rules. Never cross an intersection with a yellow signal light if you won’t be able to make it across to the other side before the light turns red.
Under the California Vehicle Code, cyclists must have:
Traffic accidents and bicycle fatalities can happen at any moment. Stay vigilant and be ready to stop for motor vehicle drivers waiting at stop signs, red lights, driveways, or parking lots who may suddenly pull out in front of you. Be prepared also to take evasive action if a car that has just passed you suddenly turns right or an oncoming vehicle turns left in front of you.
The Orange County bicycle accident statistics may be grim, but legal recourse is available for both non-fatal and fatal bicycle accidents.
At Khalil Law Group, we help cyclists injured in traffic crashes and families of bicyclists killed on the road seek compensation for medical bills, property damage, and other losses.
If you or someone you love were injured in a bike accident, call (714) 617-7870 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with an experienced bicycle accident attorney.