The Bicyclist’s Rights to the Road – Who is Responsible in an Accident?

Protected bicycle lanes — some call them “cycle tracks” — have popped up all across the United States in the past five years. This includes many in the San Francisco Bay area, such as on Shoreline Drive in Alameda.

However, are protected lanes an indication that bicyclists no longer have a place on regular roads and streets? The answer is no. Bicycles continue to have legal rights to secondary streets and roads (not highways or interstates). This is good news to anyone who regularly, or even just occasionally, uses a bicycle to get exercise, reduce carbon dioxide in the environment and avoid traffic congestion that seems to be ever-present in our home state.

However, in California and the rest of the country, serious traffic accidents still involve individuals on bikes. In a recent year, 677 individuals were killed in bike-motor vehicle accidents. Bicyclist injuries have declined since the mid-1990s, fortunately, but the facts remain that certain dangers are inherent with two-wheeled transportation.

All too often, bikers are injured or killed due to the negligence of others. Certain types of accidents occur frequently due to careless motorist behaviors, including the following:

  • Left-hand turns — Motorists sometimes violate the oncoming cyclist’s right of way.
  • “Dooring” — Opening a door on the left side of a vehicle is not permitted “unless it is reasonably safe to do so,” according to California law. The abrupt crash into an opening door is universally feared by bikers.
  • Insufficient passing room — Bicyclists have a responsibility to hang to the right side of the pavement, but a motorist still should pass with caution and adequate berth.
  • Dangerous pavement — Whether a pothole, construction debris or projectile objects, dangers to the biker might come from a contractor’s or municipality’s negligence.

If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a bike accident, speak with a bicycle accident attorney to learn what your options may be.

Categories: Auto Accidents
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