Cycling safety: How infrastructure can contribute to accidents

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2023 | bicycle accidents |

With over 286 miles of on-street bike lanes, Irvine has established cycling as a safe and convenient mode of transportation. This holds true whether one is commuting to work or enjoying a leisurely ride. The city’s commitment to fostering a bike-friendly environment is evident in its dedicated infrastructure.

Yet, as welcoming as the city aims to be for cyclists, it’s also crucial to acknowledge the potential risks of cycling. Cycling in Irvine, like in any other urban area, is not without its hazards.

Poor road surface conditions

Cyclists are particularly vulnerable to poor road surface conditions. Cars are generally equipped to handle hazardous road conditions relatively easily, but cyclists are especially at risk due to poor infrastructure maintenance. Obstacles like potholes, debris or uneven surfaces can lead to losing control. So, when cities neglect road maintenance, it can be detrimental to cyclists, as this lack of attention can increase their potential risk of getting into dangerous accidents.

Inadequate or poorly designed bike lanes

A recent study ranked Orange County as the second-most dangerous region for cyclists in California, coming in just behind Los Angeles County. As a part of Orange County, Irvine boasts an extensive network of on-street bikeways. Given this, one might expect cyclist safety to be a top priority.

However, the high accident rate tells a different story.

Cyclists often face challenging conditions, such as:

  • Narrow roads: While bike lanes are designed to provide safety to cyclists, lanes that are too narrow, located close to parked cars or abruptly end can inadvertently cause accidents rather than prevent them.
  • Lack of separated bike lanes: The absence of physical barriers between cars and cyclists increases the risk of collisions.
  • Poorly designed intersections: Intersections not explicitly designed with cyclists in mind can be hazardous. This is especially true when bike lanes disappear, compelling cyclists to merge with vehicular traffic.

Cyclists, just like motorists, have a right to smooth and safe roads. They should be able to ride without the constant fear of colliding with cars, encountering dangerous conditions due to inadequate road maintenance or navigating close quarters with large trucks. Unfortunately, subpar infrastructure can heighten these risks. Safety isn’t just about infrastructure, though. Cyclists must stay alert and cautious to ensure their safety and avoid liability. So, while good infrastructure is critical, cyclists’ responsibility is equally vital to road safety.