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Important Laws Regarding Bicycling

Each year more people chose to bicycle for leisure and their commute to work or school. In fact, approximately 12 percent of Americans regularly use bicycles. This increase in use and popularity has coincided with an increase in bicycle accidents. Injured bicyclists naturally have questions regarding fault and the laws regarding bicycling. These accidents typically result in significant injuries and even death. As a result, these injuries can result in substantial medical bills, lost income, potential disability, scarring and disfigurement, and pain and suffering. The experienced attorneys at Slatter Law Firm will aggressively fight to recover the maximum compensation for your injuries.

Bicyclists share the road with numerous vehicles of different sizes, including sedans, SUVs, trucks, and semi-trucks. Bicyclists are particularly at risk of great harm from an accident because of their minimal protection relative to these vehicles. Bicyclists also tend to go unnoticed by other motorists. Knowledge of the laws regarding bicycling helps prevent these accidents. Below is a description of those laws.

  1. Right to Bicycle On the Road- A bicyclist shares the same rights as a motorist. In other words, California bicyclists are entitled to ride on any road other than a highway or freeway. Other drivers must therefore share these roads with bicyclists. Bicyclists are also required to comply with the same traffic laws that apply to drivers.
  2. Requirement to Keep Safe Distance When Passing Bicyclist- California requires motorists to maintain a safe distance between their car and a bicyclist when passing the bicyclist. A safe distance is defined as 3 feet, but can be less distance if the vehicle slows down and takes precautions to avoid a collision..
  3. Right to Turn with Signal- Bicyclists are allowed to to change lanes to make a left turn from a turn lane. However, before changing lanes or turning, bicyclists are required to use hand signals. For example, for left turns, bicyclists must signal by extending their left arm horizontally to the left of the bicycle
  4. Safety Requirements- California imposes certain safety requirements on bicyclists to prevent accidents. Specifically, bicyclists must operate bicycles with brakes that “make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.” Additionally, bicyclists under the age of 18 are required to wear helmets, which meet the safety standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Helmets have proven to reduce the risk of brain injury or death. Therefore, adult bicyclists should also wear these helmets.
  5. There are additional laws regarding bicycling during darkness or at night. In order to bicycle at night, your bicycle must have the following: 1) a lamp emitting a white light that is visible from the front of the bicycle from a distance of 500 feet; 2) a red reflector or a solid or flashing red light that is visible from 500 feet from the rear of the bicycle; and 3) a white or yellow reflector on each pedal that is visible from 200 feet.

  6. Intoxicated Bicycling Prohibited- California prohibits the operation of a bicycle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In fact, intoxicated bicycling is a criminal offense.
  7. Duty of Care- Bicycle accidents are governed by the laws of negligence. California imposes a duty of care on all bicyclists. In other words, bicyclists must operate their bicycle with care, caution, and attentiveness in order to prevent harm to other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

In order to prevent accidents, it is crucial that bicyclists understand and comply with the above laws. If you are involved in a bicycle collision, you should immediately retain an experienced bicycle accident attorney, who will thoroughly investigate your collision and maximize your compensation for your injuries.

Contact Us Today

Contact a Los Angeles personal injury attorney today if you or a loved one was involved in a bicycle accident. Slatter Law Firm has been helping individuals injured due to accidents and slip and falls throughout Los Angeles and Southern California for over four decades. To schedule a free consultation, call our office at (310) 444-3010 or contact us online.