Accident Reconstructionist Opines on Bicyclist Forced Into Street by Damaged Bike Lane

    Accident Reconstructionist Opines on Bicycle AccidentIn this case, a vehicle accident reconstruction expert is enlisted to evaluate allegedly dangerous conditions encountered by the plaintiff in a bike lane. The cyclist typically rode her bike everywhere she went, and on the day in question, she was riding in a bike lane along a busy boulevard. Because the condition of the bike lane was so dangerous, she had to ride about eight feet from the curb. A motorist did not see her and changed lanes to make a turn, driving into the plaintiff’s lane and striking her from behind. As a result of the collision, plaintiff suffered massive head trauma.

    She filed claims against the other driver and against the state and county for their alleged failure to maintain the bike lane in a safe condition.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1.) Was the bike lane in a dangerous condition?
    • 2.) Were any regulations violated?

    Expert Witness Response

    Based upon my inspections and a Scan Station 3D laser survey, as well as the use of some Jvt image processing technology, it was determined that there were significant pavement issues along the curb lane of the boulevard, including sub-base deterioration. In fact, this area had been recommended for re-surfacing three times over the last five years.

    The poor conditions forced the plaintiff to move to her left in order to maintain control of her bicycle. The height differences all along the curb lane ranged from one half inch to over an inch and one half at some locations. The uneven surface of the roadway created substantial danger to bicyclists riding along the bike route. Riders were placed in the position of attempting to ride over the surface and face losing control of their bicycles and falling, possibly into traffic, or moving further into the lane of travel in order to get to an area that was smooth.

    The city in this case did not follow any of the sections of the state highway design manual regarding maintenance and repair of bike lanes. Nor did it follow its own bicycle plan. If it had, plaintiff would not have been forced to ride eight feet into the lane of travel and this crash would not have occurred. The alligatored, cracked and torn up condition of the paving of the bikeway that was recommended for resurfacing years before the date of the incident created a hazard to the bicycling public. The surface was not safe for bicyclists to ride over as it would cause bicyclists to lose control. At the very least, there should have been warnings of the dangerous condition.

    The expert is a traffic and roadway design engineer who is an accident reconstructionist.

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