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Cyclist Struck Riding in Center of Busy Highway

A 40-year-old cyclist was seriously injured on Thanksgiving Day when he was struck by a motorist and thrown about 15 feet onto the pavement. The man was riding his bike in the middle of the east and west bound lanes of E. Tulare Ave near S. Maple in South Fresno.

A police officer witnessed the incident and arrived on the scene seconds after it happened. The officer had noticed the cyclist in the middle of the road and was turning around to talk to him when he saw the car hit him. He was taken to the hospital where he is expected to make a full recovery.

Sharing the Road

In the Bay Area’s roughly 15,000 miles of streets and roadways, around 1,200 have designated bike lanes. That’s a lot of bike lanes, and most of the cities in the Bay Area have plans for more. However, this means that cyclists have to share the roads with motorized vehicles.

A recent study suggests that when cyclists use protected or designated bike lanes, their risk of injury is cut in half. Other studies put the decline in risk to around 25 percent. In either case, bike lanes have proven to reduce collision between cyclists and motorists thus resulting in fewer injuries. But this also means that when cyclists ride outside bike lanes or where there are none, the risk of injury goes up considerably.

How Should Cyclists Use the Streets?

Under California law, a cyclist is treated as a vehicle under the states traffic laws. This means that when a cyclist is riding in the streets, he or she is allowed to ride in the car lanes and must follow the rules of the road just as a car is required. A cyclist can get a ticket for any violation—such as speeding or DUI—that a car driver can get. So when a cyclist is riding the wrong direction in a lane, or riding down the center lane or between opposing lanes, these are violations because a motorist wouldn’t be allowed to do the same.

What if I’m Injured Outside a Bike Lane?

Let’s just cut to the heart of it: what if I’m riding improperly and get injured, does this mean I’m not getting compensated? After all, isn’t it my fault?

The answer is maybe. Just because you were violating a traffic law when you were injured, doesn’t’ mean that you were completely at fault or at fault at all. In California there is a law that prohibits the civil courts from declaring that one is negligent in a personal injury case just because the person got a ticket or violated the law during the incident.

Why? Because criminal court and civil court are separate systems and use different standards to determine guilt (criminal) and fault (civil). Also, California is a comparative fault state which means that if the cyclist is 30 percent (as an example) at fault and the motorist is 70 percent, this means that the cyclist will get 70 percent of the injuries covered.

How to Determine Fault

It’s too complicated to just guess, so the best way is to discuss your circumstances to a professional who knows the law and the system. This person can give you an idea of fault. The attorneys are Bay Area Bicycle Law are professional who can tell you whether you have a claim. Don’t take the word of the insurance companies or their lawyers, rather talk to someone who has your best interest at heart.

At Bay Area Bicycle Law, we have years of experience representing clients in all sorts of bicycle related injuries including comparative fault cases. We are the only firm in northern California that deals exclusively in bicycle law. Start putting that knowledge and experience 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.