Tragic Oakland Bike Accident Causes Death–Lessons to be Learned

Recently, there was a tragic fatal accident involving a bicyclist in Oakland. According to the newspaper accounts, a bicyclist was passing a parked car on MacArthur St. As he passed the parked car, the driver of the car opened his door causing the cyclist to strike the door. The impact caused the cyclist to be thrown into oncoming traffic and as a result he was struck by a AC Transit bus and killed.

There are two things that we can learn from this tragedy. First, as drivers, we have the legal responsibility to make sure there is no oncoming traffic before opening a car door. If we don’t and we cause a collision, we are legally responsible for the collision. Therefore, we should look carefully before opening the door, and should open the door slowly and continue to look to make sure that we have not overlooked an approaching cyclist or other vehicle.

As cyclists, the law places us in a predicament. The law requires us to drive as far to the right side of the road as practical (except where to avoid parked cars). So we must drive to the right, but pull out into traffic to go around parked vehicles. This can be dangerous as going from the far right into traffic can also cause collisions. As a practical safety matter it is best to drive well to the left of parked cars, to avoid opened doors, and remain in that same line of travel.

Unfortunately, as a Oakland personal injury lawyer and an avid cyclist myself, I have seen first hand many such tragedies which could have been avoided.


Bicyclist dies in collision with AC Transit bus,, May 20, 2010

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