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The Top 10 Official Causes of Bike/Car Accidents in LA County

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Los Angeles's streets are slowly becoming more hospitable to things other than cars (bikes, people), but they've got a way to go. California Highway Patrol data from 2012 show there were 5,090 collisions in LA County that year involving bikes and cars (parked cars and moving ones were both counted), reports KPCC in a story about bike safety. In 2,759 of those cases, the CHP decided the cyclist was at fault and in 1,878 cases, they thought the car driver was to blame—that's more skewed than the national average, which is about a 50/50 split. (What about the 453-incident difference? Those incidents were found to be the fault of "other" elements. A cat? A pothole? We'll never know.)

Drivers were found to be at fault most often for not yielding the right of way; failure to yield caused 633 car-bike crashes in 2012. That makes sense considering how many cars fail to correctly yield to each other (think back to the last time you were at a four-way stop with three other cars: anarchy), let alone bikes. That was followed by improperly turning, disobeying traffic signals/signs, "other hazardous violation," and traveling at unsafe speed.

In those cases where CHP placed the blame for the collision on the bike rider, the overwhelming cause of the crashes (1,341 occurrences) was the cyclist riding on the wrong side of the road. A public information officer for the CHP tells Curbed that since bikes are considered vehicles just like cars, and are supposed to follow the California Vehicle Code rules, when a bike riding on the wrong side of the road collides with a car, it's thought of just like a car going the wrong way. So when a wrong-way bike and a car collide, and the car wasn't doing anything illegal (making an illegal u-turn, being operated by a drunk person) and there were no other factors to the crash, it's likely that the fault of the collision will fall on the wrong-way cyclist.

Salmon-style, wrong-way bike-riding has been advocated in the past, a rep from the LA County Bike Coalition tells KPCC, and people continue to do it because they worry about being hit from behind or think it's safer.

Bikers were also found at fault for failure to yield, disobeying signs, improperly turning, and speeding, but in all those 2,759 cases where they were found to be at fault, it was still a bike up against a damn car.
· Here's what you don't know about bike laws (QUIZ) [SCPR]
· Here's a Map of All 2,043 Los Angeles Bike Crashes in 2012 [Curbed LA]