Collisions between adult cyclists and automobiles are relatively rare occurrences. Knowing the law and what to do after a vehicle accident with a cyclist can reduce the stress caused by these fairly rare events.
Unlike pedestrians, bicycle riders must follow the same rules of the road as cars, such as obeying traffic lights and stop signs, and yielding to pedestrians. There are additional State and County Vehicle Code regulations bicyclists must follow.
The California Laws Related to Cycling on the Roads
- Bicyclists have all the rights and responsibilities of vehicle drivers (CVC 21200).
- It is against the law to ride a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (CVC 21200).
- Handlebars must not be higher than the rider’s shoulders. At night bicycles must be equipped with a white headlight or white light attached to the rider and visible from the front. Bicycles must also have a rear red reflector and white or yellow pedal reflectors. There must be a white or yellow reflector on the front of the bicycle visible from the side, and a red or white reflector on the rear of the bicycle visible from the side. All riders must have a permanent, regular seat (CVC 21202 and 21204).
- Bicycles must always travel on the right side of the roadway, in the direction of traffic, and must ride in the designated bicycle lane, or as close to the right side of the road as practicable except: when passing, preparing for a left turn, to avoid hazards and dangerous conditions or if the lane is too narrow (CVC 21202, CVC 21208 and CVC 21650).
- Bicyclists and passengers under age 18 must wear an ANSI or Snell approved helmet (CVC 21212).
- Specific to Los Angeles County, bicyclists are prohibited from riding bicycles on sidewalks, bike ways or boardwalks, with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. This code also prohibits the riding of bicycles on Ocean Front Walk in Venice Beach, CA (LAMC 56.15).
Who is at Fault?
California is a comparative negligence state. This means that both parties can still recover even if both are found to be partly responsible for the accident.
For example, if you are in an accident, and the Court awards you $10,000 for damages, but the Court also determines that the accident was 25% your fault, your award will be reduced and you will only receive $7,500.
If you have been in a recent accident with a cyclist, contact The Law Offices of Andrew Ritholz, an experienced California Bike Accident Attorney.