Residents in the Contra Costa area are well aware of the continuous dangers posed to pedestrians and bicyclists on the area's streets. One of the most dangerous areas for cyclists may be King Street. As addressed in a recent blog post, a 48-year-old woman was recently killed by a concrete-mixing truck while riding her bicycle near AT&T Park.
The accident highlights the dangers on King Street, where a westbound bike lane abruptly ends between Second and Third Streets. Those familiar with the route believe the wrongful death of a cyclist was imminent, as cyclists are "literally thrown into the mercy of the cars" whose drivers may not be paying attention for merging bicyclists. There is currently one "sharrow" after the bike lane ends, off to the side of the roadway. A sharrow is a painted sign on the road indicating that vehicular traffic should share the street with cyclists.
The area also poses a danger to pedestrians. In response to complaints, the pedestrian signal at King and Third Streets was lengthened in 2008. There were two pedestrian-vehicle accidents and three bicycle-vehicle accidents at the intersection resulting in injuries between 2003 to 2011. King and Second Streets also had several pedestrian-vehicle and bicycle-vehicle accidents during that time period.
It is unknown if bike lane changes will be made in the area following the accident. Officials at the Municipal Transportation Agency are waiting on the police report before considering any changes. However, it is important for San Francisco residents to understand that the mere fact of an abrupt transition from bike lane to roadway does not excuse driver negligence. Drivers who neglect to pay attention to signs like "sharrows" and other important markings may be held liable through a wrongful death lawsuit if their recklessness leads to a fatal accident.
Source: The San Francisco Chronicle, "King Street cyclists 'at mercy of cars,'" Ellen Huet, Feb. 14, 2013.