Jon M. Robins of San Diego suffered severe injuries in a bicycle accident on November 8, 2008 because his bicycle hit an uneven pavement on North Torrey Pines Road, according to this news column titled “Just Fix It” in the San Diego Union-Tribune. The bicycle accident occurred between Torrey Pines Scenic Drive and Northpoint Drive when Robins’ front bicycle tire caught a deep but hard-to-see groove in the bicycle lane where the street had sunk about an inch.
Robins suffered 13 rib fractures and a shattered clavicle as he fell to the ground. He is still facing more surgery on his collarbone. Apparently, Robins’ wife Stephanie was trying to bring the city’s attention to this dangerous roadway condition. So she approached the Union-Tribune columnist to help fix those rough patches on Torrey Pines. The city took swift action after being contacted by the newspaper. The city’s street division immediately sent a crew to inspect the rough patches and almost instantly temporary repairs were made in the form of an asphalt coat.
This story is interesting because it shows how a number of problems that cause dangerous situations for motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians on our roadways are those that can be easily fixed. In this case, it took the city one day to fix the problem that has seriously injured bicyclists. I agree that in some cases, the problem could take longer to fix. Not all fixes may be this simple. But the point is that cities must make public safety a top priority. Public safety doesn’t only mean “police” and “fire.” It should also include safe roadways.
Cities or governmental agencies that know about a dangerous condition on their roadways and do nothing to fix it, can be held liable for injuries or deaths that occur because of such a hazard. California Government Code states that governmental agencies. could be held liable particularly if the hazard was previously known to the governmental agency and if it could have been fixed at a reasonable time and expense. In Robins’ case, he would be eligible to file a claim against the city of San Diego. However, any such claim against a governmental agency must be filed promptly within six months of the accident.