The Bay Area has long been heavily populated with bicyclists, but their numbers continue to increase. San Francisco alone has seen a 71 percent rise in bike traffic in the past five years, and more bike lanes are being added to city streets all the time. Unfortunately, with this increase comes a higher risk of injuries or death from bicycle-related car accidents.
Some of these crashes happen when drivers don't see bicyclists on the road, either due to bad weather or bicycle riders' failure to make themselves visible with lights and reflectors. Others are caused by drivers or bikers who violate traffic rules. Regardless of their cause, most would agree that when an accident does happen, both drivers and bikers have an obligation to remain at the scene and check on the welfare of the others involved.
A man who police say fatally struck a bicyclist late one night in May is accused of shirking that responsibility. He pleaded not guilty last week to charges of felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in connection with the accident. According to police, a 57-year-old man was riding or walking his bike down a street in Dublin, California, at 11:30 p.m. when a 2012 black Mercedes-Benz ran into him. The car's driver didn't stop and check on the man, but instead drove away, police said. The bicyclist was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police tracked down the owner of the vehicle, a 32-year-old attorney for a law firm in San Francisco, using the car parts left where the accident happened. The same car parts were missing from the Mercedes parked in the man's driveway. The car also had major damage to its windshield and front end. The San Ramon man was arrested shortly thereafter and is out on bond until his next court date in August.
Even if the driver, who has two convictions in California for speeding, wasn't driving in a negligent manner when he hit the bicyclist, he had a duty to remain at the scene. Drivers who fail to do this not only put themselves at risk of criminal charges, but put accident victims at risk of suffering worse injuries or losing their lives from not getting the immediate medical help they need after a crash. Victims or their families in this situation may choose to file a civil personal injury or wrongful-death lawsuit in order to gain compensation for those injuries.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "S.F lawyer charged in fatal Dublin hit-run," Henry K. Lee, June 27, 2012
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