California law doesn’t require a cyclist to get off their bike and walk it through the crosswalk. However, the law does outline the use of a crosswalk and assigns the right-of-way based on how the crosswalk is used.
California Vehicle Code 21954 says:
“(a) Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.
(b) The provisions of this section shall not relieve the driver of a vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway.”
Walking the Bike
The law gives the pedestrian the right-of-way in a crosswalk, but not a cyclist. This means that when someone is in the crosswalk and is not a pedestrian, such as a cyclist riding their bike, then the person doesn’t have the right-of-way.
A cyclist can instantly become a pedestrian if he or she gets off their bike and walks it through the crosswalk. So what does that mean for the cyclist?
Consequences of Not Having the Right-of-Way in California
The right-of-way determines who is legally allowed to proceed when two or more vehicles are at an impasse or trying to both occupy the same space. This establishes who is legally entitled to that space and who isn’t. Since the vehicle code is criminal law, then the person who doesn’t have the right-of-way can get a ticket.
But this doesn’t mean that if there is an accident, the person or vehicle that didn’t have the right-of-way is negligent and legally responsible for all damages.
In other words, just because a cyclist riding in the crosswalk doesn’t have the right-of-way, it doesn’t mean the other person can just run over them. The reason for this is that in a personal injury suit, the injured person must prove that the at-fault driver was negligent, and this isn’t based on whether they broke a traffic law or not.
Negligence means that the driver didn’t use the caution that was due to the other person under the circumstances of the accident.
California Civil Law
A personal injury claim is a civil case, not a criminal one, therefore a violation fo the law does not make someone automatically negligent and thus liable for the other person’s injuries. For example, if a cyclist is in the middle of the crosswalk riding his or her bike, and a car slams into the cyclist, the driver can’t get a ticket for not yielding the right-of-way to the cyclist because the law doesn’t give the cyclist the right-of-way.
However, under California civil law, the driver could be considered negligent for not giving the cyclist the due caution that the civil law confers upon everyone who is operating a motor vehicle. Ultimately it’s up to a jury to decide if the driver or the cyclist was negligent.
Northern California’s Bicycle Accident Lawyers.
We help bicyclists because we are bicyclists. We have served as bicycle advocates in the Bay Area community for years. In fact, Bay Area Bicycle Law is one of the state’s only personal injury law firms working exclusively with injured cyclists. As such, we provide several benefits to our clients. We will always offer you legal advice which is in your best interest. Contact us today for a free consultation.