California Bicyclist Right of Way Rules and Laws

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), there are more than 100 bicycle accidents in the state each year that cause a fatality, and many more that cause serious injury. Many of these collisions can be attributed to mistakes of the bicyclist but many more can be linked to driver negligence. In order to reduce the number of dangerous bicycle accidents each year, hopefully down to zero, it is important that we all know more about bicycle safety and right of way laws.

Consider these rules and tips, as either a bicyclist or a motorist:

  • Safety: Only people under the age of 18 can be fined for not wearing a helmet while riding on public roads but that does not mean everyone else should avoid this safe habit. A correctly-fitted bicycle helmet can prevent serious and permanent brain damage in a collision or accident. Bicyclists should also use lamps, reflectors, and bright colors to make themselves more visible.
  • Right of way: Bicycles must be treated as if they are full-sized automobiles when on the road. Drivers cannot force a bicyclist to share a lane, turn left in front of them, or do anything else that would violate regular right of way rules that pertain to car-and-car interactions. When passing a bicyclist, a motorist should move far enough into an adjacent lane as is safe; if possible, move entirely into the adjacent lane, pull ahead of the bicyclist, and then merge back into your original lane.
  • Signaling: Bicycle riders should always use hand turn signals when changing lanes or making turns at intersections. These are identical to the same hand turn signals drivers must use when their signal indicators are malfunctioning. Left hand out straight for left turns, left hand raised up for right turns, and left hand dropped down for slowing or stopping maneuvers.
  • Traffic flow: Although bicyclists have the right to control their entire lane, they should ride as far to the right as possible to help make passing easier and avoid collisions. If parked vehicles are along the side of the road, do not ride close enough to be struck by a door, should one suddenly swing open. Bicyclists should also never ride opposite the direction of traffic.
  • Bicycle lanes: Not all roads will have a bicycle lane, but more and more in California are getting them. Bicyclists are expected to use a bicycle lane when one is provided and adhere to any special rules that may be posted nearby.

Even if you are the most responsible and careful of bicyclists in California, a negligent driver can involve you in an unavoidable bicycle accident. If this should happen to you, take legal action as soon as you can by retaining the services of our Chico personal injury attorney from the Law Office of Adam Sorrells. As a member of The American Board of Trial Advocates with more than 20 years of legal and trial experience, Attorney Sorrells is prepared to take on your case, no matter the complications or the size of the opposition. We also work for contingency fees, meaning we do not get paid unless we win you a settlement, so you have nothing to lose.

Call 530.331.8026 today for a free case evaluation.

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