When a cyclist is riding in the street and not in a bike lane or on the right side of the lane, who has the right-of-way, the cyclist or a motor vehicle driver? This question confuses a lot of drivers and cyclists both, but the answer is fairly simple.
Under California law, a bike is considered a “vehicle” for the purposes of vehicle codes and rights-of-way. This means a cyclist can get a ticket for violating the state’s traffic laws just like the driver of a motor vehicle. It also means that a cyclist can ride in the street with traffic, although, sometimes this can be dangerous.
Cyclist Dies in Crash with SUV
For example, on Friday, November 8, 2019, a cyclist was struck by an SUV while riding in the street in Sacramento. Police say that the cyclist was riding on Folsom Boulevard around 7:45 p.m. when an SUV struck him. Unfortunately, the man died of his injuries. Police also say that the driver of the SUV stayed at the scene and was cooperative. Police have not charged him with anything at the time of the report.
Although we don’t know what happened in the above-mentions case, a cyclist is allowed to driver in the street with the traffic so long as he or she is going in the direction of the flow of traffic and is able to keep up with the speed of traffic. If the cyclist can’t maintain the speed of the traffic in the vehicle lanes, then it must either ride in a bike lane if there is one, or on the right-hand side of the right lane.
Thus, if a cyclist is obeying all of the rules of the road and is struck by a car in traffic, then it’s likely the fault of the motorist.
What if the Motorist isn’t Ticketed?
When it comes to who is at fault in an auto accident, we often look at who got a ticket and conclude that if police charged someone, it must have been their fault. Conversely, if the driver isn’t ticketed, then the injured cyclist might think that the driver didn’t do anything wrong.
However, under California Law, when it comes to fault for determining who has to pay for the victim’s injuries, then getting a ticket or not getting a ticket has not bearing on fault in a civil personal injury case. This is because the law says that a charge or conviction of a traffic violation can’t be used to automatically create liability for the driver (or cyclist) ticketed.
What do I do If I’m Injured While Riding my Bike in Traffic?
The best thing to do is to talk to an attorney about your rights under the law. Bay Area Bicycle Law works with clients all over the State of California and is one of the state’s only personal injury law firms working exclusively with injured cyclists. We handle cases in your area, and there are many benefits to working with a specialist.
Years of advocacy for bicycle crash victims have seasoned our attorneys with the necessary skills to handle bicycle accidents cases with the utmost level of professional expertise. We will always offer you legal advice which is in your best interest. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Please be aware that these case results do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. Every case is different and case values turn on small facts and differences. Thus, the results achieved on one case do not necessarily mean the attorney will achieve the same result, or a similar result, even for a case which may have some similarities.