A young boy’s death in Cupertino on October 27, 2014 has brought a lot of attention to California’s bike safety laws, and the city’s Bicycle Pedestrian Commission has been working to reform a number of them in order to provide children and adults a safer way to commute to and from school, work, and entertainment activities. Ethan Wong, 15, was killed while biking to school that Monday, after a semi-truck carrying gravel made a right turn as Wong was crossing the road and came in contact with the bike’s handlebars. The boy was thrown to the pavement and pronounced dead on the scene as a result of severe head injuries.
— Mercury News (@mercnews) October 27, 2014
The boy’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit in August 2014, although the driver of the truck was not charged with manslaughter. Surveillance videos of the collision led authorities to believe that negligence or wrongdoing on the part of the driver could not be established, but the Wongs maintain that the driver was not taking the proper route to his destination and violated California’s 3 Feet for Safety Act by failing to maintain a distance of at least 3 feet when passing a person riding a bicycle. The lawsuit also alleges that the city of Cupertino failed to take adequate safety measures for bicyclists, such as putting up signs that prevented trucks from entering areas where children on bicycles typically commute to and from school.
Improvements to Cupertino’s Bike Safety System
Since the tragic death of Ethan Wong, Cupertino has made a variety of changes to their bike safety laws that aim at not only making it safer for students to bike to and from school but also for the bicycle and pedestrian community as a whole. Trucks have been restricted from traveling in areas near schools between the hours of 7:30 A.M. and 9:30 A.M., and “no trucks allowed” signs have been posted in these areas to inform drivers to find an alternate route during those times.
Additionally, Cupertino has approved a new program that is designed to keep trash bins from obstructing bike lanes, which forces bicyclists to ride in traffic. The program requires that trash and recycling pickup take place at 6:00 A.M., and although the program was only temporary to determine if the change increased bike safety, the city is considering putting the program permanently into place. Bike lanes have also been painted green to increase visibility, and buffers have been added to many bike lanes across the city. These changes have been of minimal cost to the city of Cupertino but have increased safety significantly for bicyclists and pedestrians alike.
Should Walnut Creek Adopt Improved Bike Safety Laws?
Like many other California cities, Walnut Creek also has a fair number of bicyclists and pedestrians that do not use vehicles to commute to and from work, school, and other destinations. Although the tragic crash that killed Ethan Wong occurred in Cupertino, could Walnut Creek avoid similar bicycle accidents before they happen by adopting Cupertino’s new bicycle safety laws?
The answer is undoubtedly a resounding, “yes.” The costs to the city to paint bike lanes green for increased visibility and place signs that restrict truck travel in school areas during certain hours of the day are nominal, especially when compared to the costs of losing a young life too soon as a result of a completely preventable bicycle accident. Additionally, changing trash pickup times to keep bins from blocking bike lanes during the hours when students and adults are likely to be commuting has no costs to the city that are associated with the change, but can keep bike lanes free of obstructions during morning commutes.
Adopting improved bicycle safety laws like Cupertino doesn’t have to be instigated by a tragic death. Instead, the city can take a page from Cupertino’s book and make the city safer for bicyclists and pedestrians before accidents occur.
Has Your Family Been Involved in a Bicycle Accident or Wrongful Death?
If you or a loved one were hurt in a bicycle accident, or you lost a loved one as a result of wrongful death, your family deserves justice. If the person who caused the accident or death can be proven negligent or careless in their actions, they can be held legally liable for their contribution to the injuries or death of the victim. You may also be able to pursue compensation that can help cover medical costs, funeral expenses, lost wages, and emotional trauma.
Contact the Appel Law Firm LLP today to speak with a Walnut Creek personal injury attorney about your case and to learn more about how to protect your rights and best interests during this difficult time. Our veteran accident and wrongful death lawyers are available now to speak with you at (888) 511-6905.