Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in California

Bicycle Accidents,personal injury | March 22, 2024

Bicycle accidents can leave individuals in our area with severe injuries. Information from the California Office of Traffic Safety shows that there were more than 8,600 total reported bicycle accident injuries in 2022, the most recent reporting year of data on file. Unfortunately, bicycle accidents can occur in a wide variety of ways, and often due to the negligent actions of others.

Vehicle Collisions

Collisions with vehicles are the leading cause of severe bicyclist injuries in California. Unfortunately, drivers can disregard their duty of care to bicyclists in a number of ways, including:


  • Operating while distracted
  • Operating well impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Failing to yield the right of way to a bicyclist
  • Passing a bicyclist too closely
  • Tailgating a bicyclist
  • Failing to use turn signals
  • Failing to stop at stop signs or stop lights
  • Opening car doors into the pathway of a bicyclist

California bicycle accidents involving vehicles must be thoroughly documented. In almost all scenarios, these situations warrant calling law enforcement officials to the scene so they can investigate and fill out an accident report.

Defective Bikes or Bike Parts

Defective bicycles or bicycle parts could lead to a bicyclist sustaining severe injuries. Unfortunately, there are times when bicycles or an individual part on the bike arrives to the consumer damaged or poorly designed. If a manufacturer, company, retailer, or distributor allows a defective bicycle or bicycle part to be sold, they could be held liable should the defect lead to an injury.

In the event you sustain an injury caused by a defective bicycle or bicycle part, do not discard the bike or the part in question. Take photographs of the scene of the incident and the bicycle, as well as your injuries. Store the bicycle in a safe location because it may be needed to help prove your claim against another party.

Roadway, Sidewalk, or Bike Path Defects

Various types of roadway, sidewalk, or bike path defects could lead to severe bicyclist injuries. This includes, but is not limited to, the following issues:

  • Potholes and Cracks. These are common on roadways and bike paths, forming over time due to weathering and wear. They can cause cyclists to lose control, leading to falls and collisions.
  • Uneven Surfaces. Changes in elevation or uneven surfaces, including those caused by tree roots under sidewalks or bike paths, can be dangerous for cyclists, potentially leading to loss of balance.
  • Poorly Designed or Maintained Bike Lanes. Bike lanes that are not properly segregated from vehicular traffic or those with obstructions can cause cyclists to veer into traffic or stop abruptly.
  • Lack of Signage or Improper Lighting. Inadequate signage warning of road works or changes in path direction and poor lighting in areas meant for cycling can reduce visibility and increase accident risk.
  • Debris and Obstructions. Construction debris, fallen branches, and other obstacles that are not promptly cleared from bike paths or roadways can pose serious risks to cyclists.

There may be various parties who could be held liable for a road, symbol, or bike path defect. This includes, but is not limited to, government municipalities responsible for the area, private property owners, homeowners associations (HOAs), construction companies, utility companies, and more. An extensive investigation into an incident could help uncover potential liable parties.