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Bicycle Accidents

According to US News and World Report, bicycle accidents and fatalities from bicycle accidents are on the rise in California, hitting a 25-year high. Experts believe this is due to a combination of factors including Americans driving more, the increase in cell phone use and distracted driving, more bicycles on the road, and California buying larger cars and SUVs which make it harder to see bicyclists.


Unfortunately, too often even when bicyclists have done nothing wrong motorists and police officers like to blame bicyclists for collisions. The truth is cyclists have just as much a right to use the road as motorists, and are protected in the following ways:


  • Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on the road as motorists (Vehicle Code section 21200)

  • Motorists should allow a minimum 3-foot buffer when passing a cyclist (Vehicle Code section 21760)


However, cyclists should also be familiar with laws controlling how to operate and maintain a bicycle, including:


  • Bicyclists should use designated bicycle lanes if they are present when traveling slower than the speed of traffic, passing others, making left turns, avoiding hazardous roadway conditions or making a lawful right turn. (Vehicle Code section 21208)

  • Bicyclists should try to travel as close as possible to the right side of the street when moving with the flow of traffic. (Vehicle Code section 21650)

  • It is illegal to stop or obstruct a bicycle lane (Vehicle Code section 212111)

  • Some cities do not allow bicycling on sidewalks, so riders should be familiar with local city laws (Vehicle Code section 21206)

  • Bicycles must have working brakes (Vehicle Code section 21201(a))

  • Bicycle handlebars must be even with or lower than the rider’s shoulders (Vehicle Code section 21201(b))

  • When riding after dark or when visibility is low a white light should be affixed the front of the bicycle or to the rider. (Vehicle Code section 21201(d)(e))

  • When riding after dark or when visibility is low reflectors should be attached to the bicycle and or the rider (Vehicle Code section 21201(d))


Working through the various laws governing cyclists and be challenging. Unfortunately, insurance companies rarely act fairly when it comes to cyclists who are injured and try to blame the bicyclist even when they have done nothing wrong. It is important to hire a skilled and experienced bicycle injury attorney to help you with your claim.

Image by Ian Valerio
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