Did you know that drivers are required to share the road with bicyclists in almost all circumstances? California law classifies bicycles as vehicles, meaning that the bicyclist has the same rights and responsibilities as other drivers. Here, we want to discuss the steps that you can take to properly share the roadway with bicyclists in order to maintain safety for you and others around you.
In the state of California, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other motorists do on the roadway. This actually comes as a surprise to many motorists. Yes, bicyclists are considered vehicles, and they must be treated as such. When you begin to think of a bicyclist as another vehicle, this can help frame your actions. You must treat bicyclists with respect at all times, even if you may not want to.
You need to learn the hand signals that bicyclists are supposed to use when they are coming to a stop, changing lanes, or turning. If a bicyclist sticks their left hand straight out, this means that they are making a left turn. If they hold up their left arm at a 90-degree angle, this indicates a right turn. If a bicyclist points their left arm straight down at a 90-degree angle, this indicates that they wish to slow down or stop.
It is important for motorists to give bicycles enough space on the roadway. This includes not following a bicyclist too closely and leaving at least three feet between your vehicle and the bicyclist if you need to pass the bicycle.
If you notice a bicyclist coming up as you operate your vehicle, you may want to adjust your speed appropriately. Even though bicyclists are supposed to obey the same types of traffic laws as vehicles, and bicyclists are supposed to stay as close to the right side of the roadway as possible, there are no guarantees. Just like you practice defensive driving around other vehicles, you should also practice defensive driving around bicyclists and pedestrians. Expect the unexpected. By slowing down, you will give yourself more time to react in case the bicyclist enters into traffic more than you expected.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of vehicle accidents in California. Drivers distracted by their phones, other people, or anything else in the vehicle will be much more likely to strike a bicyclist on the roadway. Every driver needs to minimize their distractions – for the safety of everyone.
Even after you park your vehicle, you should check your surroundings before you open your doors. It is not uncommon for bicyclists to sustain injuries as a result of being “doored.” These types of incidents often result in the same types of injuries as incidents involving collisions with vehicles.
If you are a bicyclist or a motorist and have been involved in an accident, we encourage you to speak to a skilled bicycle accident attorney in Santa Ana as soon as possible. An attorney can get involved, investigate the case, determine liability, and help individuals recover compensation for their losses.