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A ghost bike memorial was erected for fallen bicyclist Michael William Nine at the site of the accident on Spyglass Hill Road in Newport Beach.

Newport Beach police, city staff, and friends and family of Michael William Nine, the 43-year-old bicyclist who died after being struck down by a stakebed truck on Spyglass Hill Road on July 15, gathered around a bicycle that had been painted white and placed near the location of the accident to mourn his loss, reported the Orange County Register. The accident occurred when the driver of the truck, 38-year-old Jose Luis Huerta Mundo, neglected to heed a traffic sign prohibiting left turns. Mundo—whom police later discovered had previously been deported—was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence and is currently being held at Central Men’s Jail, explains an Orange County bicycle accident lawyer.


Nine had been an avid cyclist, participating in 35-mile group rides that spanned Tustin, Irvine, and Newport Beach three mornings a week. The “ghost bike” memorial for him is one among many that take place across the nation annually:


“[Ghost bikes] serve as reminders of the tragedy that took place on an otherwise anonymous street corner,” according to a statement made by ghostbikes.org, “and as quiet statements in support of cyclists’ right to safe travel.” 


Our thoughts and prayers go out to Michael William Nine’s family during this difficult time, as well as to the families of fallen cyclists everywhere. After over 35 years of helping the grief-stricken families of bicyclists who have lost their lives to the negligence of the drivers they share the road with, we at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie have seen firsthand the devastating toll such tragedies can take on families. 


California is one of the most dangerous states for bicyclists: of the 698 bicyclist fatalities recorded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2007, 109 occurred in California, making it the state with the second highest number of cyclist fatalities in country. Just last week, the Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, was stuck by a taxicab while riding his bicycle in the city. 


While the mayor was fortunate enough to have only suffered a broken elbow, his accident does share something in common with Michael William Nine’s: a negligent driver. The drivers responsible for these accidents failed to follow rules that have been created to protect pedestrians and bicyclists. In the mayor’s case, the taxicab driver pulled out of a parking space and entered the bicycle lane without looking; in Nine’s case, the truck driver not only failed to obey a sign forbidding him to turn left but also neglected to check if anyone was crossing the street he was about to enter. 


Bicycle accidents are often the result of driver negligence. Many accidents occur when a driver is attempting to make a turn, whether impatiently turning right on the green as a bicyclist enters the crosswalk, or, as in Nine’s case, making a left hand turn and striking the cyclist in the crosswalk. Oftentimes, drivers fail to share the road with bicyclists, driving in bike lanes, running them off the road, and sideswiping them. Opening car doors without checking for oncoming bicycle traffic is another common instance of driver negligence. In other accidents, drivers have stopped suddenly, assuming bicycle brakes are as effective as car brakes, causing cyclists to slam into the car. 


Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie, the bicycle accident law firm who wrote this article, is not currently representing any of the aforementioned accident victims or their families. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident and are in need of legal advice, feel free to call us at 866-981-5596. We know your rights and the negligent party’s obligation to compensate you for medical expenses, lost wages, and property loss or damage. If you have lost a loved one to a bicycle accident, you may have a wrongful death claim against the negligent party and should consult with a reputable Orange County bicycle accident lawyer immediately, as there is a statute of limitation for filing such claims. We have been helping the victims of bicycle accidents for over 35 years. We are here for you. 


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