Riding a bicycle anywhere in Arizona can be risky. Bikes are particularly susceptible to accidents caused by road hazards. Because of the relative instability of bikes and thin tires, unexpected changes to the road surface can cause even experienced cyclists to lose control, fall, or veer into the path of a car.

Common road hazards that can lead to a bicycle crash or injury include:
• Sewer grates
• Potholes
• Railroad tracks
• Other road obstacles

ACCIDENTS CAUSED BY POTHOLES

Potholes generally occur for one of two reasons: shoddy temporary fixes that sink or crack soon after completion, or long-term wear and tear on the road causes surface breaks. If the pothole is a result of shoddy road work, the public entity performing the roadwork may be held responsible, depending on whether sufficient warning of the hazard was given. If the pothole is a result of long-term wear and tear, determining fault becomes a question of whether the roadway agency was negligent and how long the pothole has been present.

ACCIDENTS CAUSED BY SEWER GRATES

Sewer grates can be a very serious danger to cyclists. Due to many outspoken bicyclists, many cities and counties have changed the shape or direction of sewer grates to make them safer for cyclists. But many dangerous grates will exist on public roadways. If a cyclist is injured in an accident caused by a sewer grate, an argument may be presented that bikers have a right to ride on a safe road and unsafe sewer grates can present an unexpected hazard.

ACCIDENTS CAUSED BY RAILROAD TRACKS

The public entity’s liability for a bike accident caused by railroad tracks depends on two parts:

First, what is the rail position? Tracks that run in the direction of traffic or cross on a curve are dangerous to cyclists. Tracks that are perpendicular to the road are not particularly dangerous. Second, what has been done by the public entity to reduce the hazard? Could they be removed or covered up if no longer in use? Did the public entity provide sufficient warning to the cyclists?

If you have been hurt in a bicycle accident caused by road hazards, contact The Law Office of Thomas Grier to discuss your case and review your options.