Eight months after San Diego paid nearly $5 million to a bicyclist severely injured by damaged sidewalk, the city is facing three more bicycle injury lawsuits from injuries.
One suit blames the city for a bicycle-on-bicycle crash in a Balboa Avenue eastbound bike lane, which is frequently used by cyclists traveling both directions because the city hasn’t built a westbound bike lane on the street.
Another suit blames the city for a bicyclist being launched by damaged concrete in a bike lane in Carmel Valley. And the third suit blames the city for a man getting electrocuted by a bike rack on El Cajon Boulevard in Talmadge.
The lawsuits come as San Diego is encouraging more people to commute by bicycle to fight climate change, reduce traffic congestion and ease parking scarcity.
They highlight the city’s lack of adequate infrastructure to accommodate a sharp surge in bicycling commuters, a problem city officials say they are focused on fixing with a regional network of bike lanes that’s being slowly constructed.
Cycling advocates say the network will fix a glaring oversight by city planners, who designed streets in San Diego with specific places for cars and pedestrians but no designated travel lanes for bikes.
San Diego is also grappling with cyclists using sidewalks on streets that lack bike lanes because they feel safer there.
The man who got $4.85 million from the city in March was riding on a tree-damaged Del Cerro sidewalk city officials had been notified about five months before the September 2014 crash.
The crash left Clifford Brown with torn spinal cord ligaments, several lost teeth and brain damage that makes him incapable of functioning independently.
The man injured in the Balboa Avenue bicycle-on-bicycle crash describes similar injuries in his lawsuit, which was filed in September.
The November 2016 crash into another bicyclist allegedly threw Douglas Eggers backward and caused a serious brain injury when his head struck the ground on Balboa near Tecolote Canyon.
He was hospitalized for six weeks and then transferred to a neuro skills facility in Bakersfield where he is still being treated.
Eggers’ lawsuit says the city is at fault because the bike lane it built on Balboa Avenue in 2008 is ripe for head-on collisions.
That’s because the street has only one bike lane that is designated for eastbound cyclists, but westbound cyclists also frequently use the lane to avoid the dangers of riding on such a busy street.
His lawsuit says the city should have created a wider bike lane on the north side of Balboa with a divider to accommodate two-way traffic, or the city should have constructed a separate westbound bike lane on the south side of the street.
The suit also notes that the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee has received complaints about the lack of a westbound bike lane on Balboa.
The injured cyclist in the second lawsuit, Michael Cizaukas, describes somewhat less severe injuries he suffered after being thrown from his bicycle by a two-inch “launching ramp” in a Carmel Valley concrete bike lane buckled by a tree.
Cizaukas says he suffered fractured bones, a separated shoulder, muscle tears, hearing loss and a concussion from the crash, which took place in May 2016 on Carmel Canyon Road near Tarantella Lane.
The suit, filed in August, says the city is obligated to provide cyclists with a hazard-free bike lane and that the city should have known about the raised concrete and fixed it.