Follow the Law to Prevent Bicycle Accidents
Learn about the traffic safety laws affecting bicycles riding in traffic
Whenever cars and bicycles share the road, there is a potential for accidents. Organizations like the California Highway Patrol are making an effort to improve awareness of the common causes of bicycle accidents and of how following traffic laws can protect against these accidents. Following the law is important not only for your own safety, but also to protect your right to compensation in the event of an accident caused by another party’s negligence. Here are some of the most important bike laws to be aware of.
Always ride with traffic. Bicyclists must always ride with the flow of traffic and obey the same rules of the road as cars. Ride to the right side of the road and stop at all stop signs and stoplights just as if you were a car. Never ride between stopped cars at a light.
If there is bike lane, use it. You are required by law to use an available bike lane any time you are traveling slower than the normal traffic speed. The only exceptions are when you are passing another cyclist, a parked car, pedestrian, or other obstacle in the bike lane, or when you are getting ready to make a left hand turn.
Use proper hand signals. Like cars, bikes need to signal changes in direction and speed. Since bikes do not have taillights, you need to use hand signals instead. To signal a left turn, hold your left arm straight out. To signal a right turn, hold your right arm straight out or your left arm pointed straight up. To signal a stop, hold your left arm pointed straight down.
Do not ride at night without lights and reflectors. If drivers cannot see your bike because you lack proper night riding equipment, any accident that may occur will most likely be your fault. The driver will not have to pay for your injuries and you may even have to pay for theirs! In order to ride at night, you must have a white headlamp attached to your bike or your body that is visible 300 feet away. You also need a red rear reflector, white or yellow reflectors on the front and back of the pedals, and reflectors on the sides of the bike in front and in rear.
Ensure your bike meets equipment requirements.
In order to be considered road safe, your bike needs to be properly sized to your body and have working brakes. Make sure your handlebars are no higher than your shoulders when riding and that the seat is adjusted so that you can safely stop the bike in an upright position by putting your foot on the ground.
What Happens If You Do Have an Accident?
Following all relevant traffic and bike safety laws will go a long way towards preventing negligence on your part from being a factor in a bicycle accident. However, it is possible for you and the other party to share responsibility for the accident if you both acted negligently. In any case, you need to seek medical attention for injured parties and document the scene of the accident carefully so that your bicycle accident attorney will have something to work from when preparing a personal injury case on your behalf.