Knowing Your Rights As a Cyclist in California
Bicyclists have responsibilities and rights to share the road, the same as motorists in California. They have a right to be in the roadway, provided they know and follow the rules of the road. Bicyclists are forced to share the road with large and dangerous trucks and cars, along with many drivers who do not understand bicycle right-of-way. A cyclist who is seriously injured by a negligent driver has a right to a fair recovery and to hold the at-fault driver accountable.
What Are the Traffic Rules for Cyclists in California?
Provided they can keep up with the flow of traffic, bicyclists can travel in traffic lanes, the same as motor vehicles. They are required to ride in the bike lane or in the far right-hand side of the right lane, going in the same direction as traffic. Cyclists are allowed to ride alongside, rather than behind a vehicle in the far right lane.
When Does a Cyclist Have the Right-of-Way in California?
California’s Three Feet for Safety Act can be found in the Vehicle Code at Section 21760. It requires any driver overtaking and passing a bicycle traveling in the same direction to do so at a safe distance that does not interfere with the safe operation of the bike under existing conditions, and under no circumstances at less than three feet. A vehicle turning right from the right-hand lane must yield to any cyclist riding properly in the right lane. Motorists must also yield to cyclists riding in bike lanes.
When Should Cyclists Yield to Pedestrians?
The rule of thumb is to always yield to pedestrians, even if they are in an intersection illegally. As bicycles are considered vehicles, cyclists must yield to pedestrians the same as motor vehicles. A driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk is required to reduce speed, take any other action, and exercise all due care to safeguard the pedestrian’s safety, under California Vehicle Code Section 21950.
How Can You Stay Safe While Cycling in California?
When riding on California streets, follow traffic rules and ride defensively.
- Ride in bike lanes when they are available.
- Ride in the direction of traffic at a steady pace.
- Use hand signals and do a head check before turning or changing lanes.
- Obey traffic signs and signals, the same as any other vehicle.
- Don’t text, listen to music, or engage in any other distraction – stay focused on safe cycling.
- Assume other drivers do not see you.
- Look ahead for hazards on the road, such as potholes, train tracks, loose gravel, or grates.
- Only ride on sidewalks when it is legal, and always pass pedestrians carefully.
- Be wary of “dooring” – when someone in a parked car opens a door directly in the path of a cyclist.
What Are Your Rights If a Negligent Driver Causes an Accident?
Injured cyclists in California have a right to a fair recovery and to hold negligent drivers accountable. If you have been hit by a motor vehicle and you believe the driver is at fault for the crash, you may be entitled to file a claim for compensation. If you are able, take pictures and collect as much evidence as possible at the scene of the accident. Your next step, after getting medical attention, is to consult with an experienced California personal injury attorney.
At The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV, we have a history of success recovering compensation for injured clients. Call us at (562) 901-0840 or toll-free at (888) 454-5569 to schedule a free initial consultation after a serious bicycle accident. We can tell you if you have a case and what damages you may be entitled to claim.