A cyclist was struck by one car and then another Tuesday, July 23, 2019, at 12:15 a.m. and died from his injuries. According to the California Highway Patrol, the accident happened on Petaluma Hill Road at Hopi Trail just northeast of Rohnert Park. CHP also says that it looked like the cyclist was riding in the southbound lane of Petaluma Hill Road and was first hit by a 2009 Ford Focus and then after being ejected onto the southbound lane, he was hit by a 2017 Subaru Legacy.
It was reported that the cyclist was wearing dark clothes and riding outside the designated bike lane. Authorities say that both drivers stayed at the scene and neither were impaired by drugs or alcohol. CHP is asking anyone with information about the crash to tall their Santa Rosa Office at (707) 588-1400.
Riding in Bike Lanes
Santa Rosa has around 150 miles of bike lanes for cyclists to use to get around the city. Most cyclist prefer to ride in their designated lanes, and studies have shown the when riding in a marked bike lane, accidents are reduced by as much as 50%.
California law requires cyclists to use bike lanes where they are available, but only IF they are traveling slower than the flow of traffic. The exceptions to this are when there is a hazard in or near the bike lane, to make a left-hand turn or to overtake another bike rider.
The law also allows cyclists to ride on the streets if there are no bike lanes available, and no matter where they ride, they are treated like every other vehicle for the purpose of vehicle codes, tickets and rights-of-way.
Riding Outside of Bike Lanes
However, not all cyclists ride in bike lanes for various reasons. Some attempt to go the same speed as traffic, which is possible in downtown areas of some cities, but difficult to do on roads where the speed limit is 35 or higher.
Other riders cite safety as the reason not to ride in the bike lanes. This goes against the studies that say bike lanes are safer, however, some say that in certain circumstances, its safer to ride outside the bike lane.
Five Reasons why Cyclist Don’t Use Bike Lanes
- Lane is too narrow: This causes the cyclist to have too many near misses with parked cars, poles and other cyclists.
- Lanes is too congested: The popularity of bike lanes causes them to be crowded in some areas and some cyclist feel that they can’t get around the slower moving bikes.
- Lanes littered with cars and objects: Some cyclists feel it’s unsafe to keep veering out into traffic to avoid objects at the last minute. They feel that some jurisdictions don’t enforce bike lanes laws that prohibit blocking of a lane, and riding in the lane seems unsafe.
- Poorly maintained or designed bike lanes: Pot holes, faded markings and confusing design make some lanes not preferable to ride in.
- Some areas not suitable for bike lanes: Because of layout of the roads, intersections and side streets, some cyclists feel that a bike lane actually makes riding on certain roads to be less safe.
Liability When Riding Outside Bike Lane
Some cyclists think that if they get hit by a car when riding outside a bike lane where there was one (and if they didn’t have a proper exception) then they can’t collect for their injuries. However, that’s not what the law says. In California there is a law that states a traffic code violation can’t be used in a civil court to automatically conclude fault in a personal injury case.
So while the cyclist might get a ticket for not riding in the lane when he or she was supposed to, it can’t be used to mean that they are at fault in an accident. No matter the traffic rules, anyone who negligently hits another person is responsible for the damages.
Also, since California is a comparative fault stated, an injured cyclist might be considered a percentage at fault, and this will reduce the any compensation award, but not eliminate it.
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident and weren’t riding in a bike lane or weren’t obeying another traffic code, before you just accept that it’s your fault, talk to an attorney who knows the law. There are many reasons why a person might not be at fault even though they broke a traffic law, and at Bay Area Bicycle Law, we have experience in just these type of cases.
Bay Area Bicycle Law is the only firm in northern California that deals exclusively with bicycle law. A consultation is free, and if you decide to have them represent you, there are no fees paid until you get paid by the insurance company.
Start putting someone on your side, call us at (415) 466 8717 or click here to contact us online. If you still wonder if we’re the right firm for you or even if you need an attorney, read this this for help answering these questions.
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.