A cyclist riding her bike south on Jacks Hill Road approaching Comanche Point Road was struck by a Ford F-250 pickup. The accident occurred around 4:40 pm, Tuesday, January 29, and according to a California Highway Patrol officer at the scene, the woman was knocked off her bike and suffered fatal injuries.
The driver of the truck remained at the scene and cooperated with CHP who says that neither impairment nor distracted driving seem to have played a part in the accident. Any witnesses to the collision are asked to contact the Mojave CHP office at (661) 823-5500.
Sharing the Road
The Bay Area has over 1,200 miles of designated bike lanes, and most of the cities in the Bay Area have plans to build more. Since there are around 15,000 miles of streets in the same area, cyclists have to share the road with motorists.
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health says that when cyclists use designated or protected bike lanes, their risk of death and injury goes down almost 50 percent. This is a significant reduction. Other studies show similar reductions suggesting that when bikes and motor vehicles share roads with no bike lanes, it becomes more dangerous for the cyclist.
The study also shows a difference in protected lanes—those with a physical barrier—and those merely designated as bike lanes by markings on the pavement. Protected lanes drop the collision rate to 90 percent whereas designated lanes reduce the risk of collision by 25 to 57 percent, depending on what study you use.
In any case, it’s safe to say that when cyclists have their own lanes and are not forced to compete with motorized vehicles for street space, they are much safer. However, since the majority of the time, bikers and cars have to share, bikers should take steps to protect themselves when riding in the open streets.
Cyclists Streets and the Law
Under California law, a cyclist is treated as vehicle. This means that when bikes are out in the street riding with the cars and buses, they have to obey the same traffic laws, and a cyclist can get a ticket the same as a motorist. They also have to follow the regular lane designations for such things like left and right turns, right-of-way at stop signs, impaired driving and even speeding.
Aceable, a traffic education company, lists certain safety tips cyclists should consider using when riding in the streets unprotected by bike lanes:
- Stop for stop signs and red lights
- Follow all traffic signs and traffic laws
- Go with the flow (of traffic)
- Use turn lanes and arm turn signals so cars know where you’re going
- Follow the posted speed limit,
- Don’t block traffic in a travel lane
- Use lights when biking at night/in bad weather
- Yield right of way to cars and other bike riders when you’re entering roadways
- Don’t use your phone while biking
- DO NOT bike while intoxicated
- Aggressive driving is never cool, especially when there is a cyclist or bike lane near by
- Watch out for tractor trailers making wide right turns
What if I’m Injured Outside a Bike Lane?
Put another way, what if I’m not following the rules and I get injured? Is it my fault automatically? The answer is no, not automatically. 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.
This is because criminal court and civil courts are separate and use different standards to determine guilt (criminal) and fault (civil). Further, since California is a comparative fault state, if—for example—the cyclist is 20 percent at fault and the motorist is 80 percent, the cyclist will get 80 percent of the injuries covered.
Who’s at 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 work do 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. 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.