In most areas, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles. Cyclists must follow the law as to driving under the influence, giving pedestrians the right of way, and following traffic signals as if they were driving a car.
Cyclists are also required to ride with the flow of traffic, except in certain circumstances including passing, making a legal left turn, riding on a one-way street, riding on a road that is too narrow, or when the right side of the road is closed due to road construction. If there is a road with a designated bike lane, cyclists traveling slower than the flow of vehicle traffic must use the bike lane unless they are making a left turn, passing, avoiding hazards, or approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.
Drivers of motor vehicles also bare responsibility for the safety of cyclists. California’s “Three feet for Safety Act,” requires drivers to give cyclists at least three feet of space when driving alongside or passing a cyclist. Bicycle paths cannot be obstructed by parking a car or bicycle in it. Also, a cyclist on a road has the right to “take the lane” even if they are moving slower than traffic when:
- A cyclist is passing;
- preparing for a left turn;
- avoiding hazards in the roadway;
- a lane is too narrow to share, and
- when a right turn is authorized.
What are the Laws on Bicycles in California?
Cyclists have increased as many city leaders try to get people out of their cars and onto other more environmentally friendly forms of transportation. Cycling reduces traffic congestion and reduces reliance on fossil-fuels. However, even with bike lanes and protected bike paths, cycling accidents are on a rise in auto accidents.
According to a report on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017 782 the death of cyclists nationwide was attributed to 3 categories:
- 37% involved alcohol.
- 25% happened where a cyclist was impaired.
- 7% happened where a motor vehicle was impaired.
In California, the statistics mirrored the national statistics in that most cyclists’ death involved alcohol, followed by instances where a cyclist was impaired, and the least contributing factor was where a motor vehicle was impaired. Even though most cyclists are aware of the dangers of bike travel and take precautions, accident still occur on a daily basis. Obtaining the assistance of an experienced California bicycle lawyer can help you recover damages after an accident.
Who is liable for a bicycle accident in California?
It depends. If you were seriously injured in a bicycle accident, you should consult with an experienced attorney that represents injured cyclists to evaluate the specific facts in your case.
Drivers are always required to drive at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the bicycle. The driver must consider the size and speed of the car versus the bicycle, the traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and the surface of the road. If the driver failed to comply with the Three Feet for Safety Act, they will be fined.
When a driver is fined, it may help the injured cyclist prove a case of negligence against the driver. In cases where an injured person can show that the driver violated a law that was enacted to protect them, the injured person may claim that the driver was negligent per se. In these cases where the driver outright violated a law, it is easier for the injured party to collect damages for the victim’s medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other damages. Having an experienced attorney can help assess liability and damages in your particular case.
Contact a Bicycle Accident Lawyer
If you have suffered physical injuries and property damage after a bicycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation from the party who negligently caused your injuries. To speak with one of experienced personal injury lawyer Christopher Kreeger about your case, contact us today at (916) 782-8400.