I came across this informative Orange County bicycle accident article in the Whittier Daily News written by Sgt. Dan Lowe of the Whittier Police Department’s Traffic Bureau. I think this article is worth sharing because of the important information it contains and for reminding readers that they are not on the road alone. As motorists, we share the road with not only other vehicles, but also pedestrians and bicyclists. In fact more and more people are taking to riding bicycles and motorcycles because of skyrocketing gas prices and the current economic situation. This may be an important factor to future motorcycle and bicycle collision statistics.
This article by Sgt. Lowe addresses the specific legal obligations of bicyclists as well as the legal obligations of motorists. California Vehicle Code section 21200 states: “Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division.”
A bicyclist is no different than the operator of any other vehicle. He or she must obey all the laws that a driver is required to obey while operating a car. What this means is that a bicyclist must ride in the direction of traffic, stop at stop lights and stop signs. Bicyclists may also be arrested for riding their bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (California Vehicle Code section 21200.5).
That said motorists have the responsibility to yield to bicyclists if the bicyclists have the right of way. Recently, we have seen several bicycle accidents and car versus bicycle accidents in Orange and Los Angeles counties because of failure to yield right-of-way on the part of motorists.
Here is another interesting analysis Sgt. Lowe provides. If the bicyclist is riding his bike in a crosswalk across a six-lane highway, three lanes in each direction, and the motorists in the first two lanes yield, the motorist in the third lane must yield as well. This applies even if the motorists in the first two lanes conceal the bicyclist. The motorist may not proceed if the bicyclist is so close that it is hazardous to proceed.
It is important that we as motorists remember that we share the roadway with a variety of traffic. We must remain conscious of it at all times. For example, at intersections, we need to look for pedestrians, motorcycles and bicycles just as we look for cars, trucks and SUVs. By being more conscious drivers, we can definitely help put an end to the rising number of tragic bicycle-car accidents.