Bicycling offers a convenient and eco-friendly means of transportation, and many cyclists often opt to use crosswalks to navigate busy intersections safely. However, despite the best intentions, accidents can still occur, leaving cyclists vulnerable to injuries and legal complexities. Laws vary across the country, and even the state, regarding how to legally and safely cross an intersection on a bicycle. This blog addresses what to do after a bike accident and the steps you should take to care for your injuries if you are hurt due to someone else’s negligence.
How Common Are Bike Accidents?
Each year, roughly 11,000 bicyclists are injured and about 160 cyclists are killed across California. Due to the weather and the frequency of visitors and tourists, the number of bicycle crashes drops during the winter months of December through February. The highest number occurs between May and October. A cyclist of any age is at risk of being involved in an accident, but the greatest number of bicycle accident injuries happen to riders between the ages of 15 and 34.
Understanding the Legality of Riding a Bike in a Crosswalk
According to various state laws, the legality of riding a bike in a crosswalk can vary. In some jurisdictions, cyclists are considered pedestrians while riding in crosswalks, giving them the right-of-way. Conversely, other states may classify cyclists as vehicles, requiring them to follow traffic rules and dismount their bikes before crossing. California law doesn’t require a cyclist to get off their bike and walk through the crosswalk. The law does define how a crosswalk should be used and assigns the right-of-way based on this definition.
California Vehicle Code 21954 says:
“(a) Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.
(b) The provisions of this section shall not relieve the driver of a vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway.”
This means that as the law is currently defined, if you are riding your bicycle in the crosswalk, you do not have the right-of-way and should yield to oncoming traffic. However, if you get off your bike and walk it through the intersection, you immediately become a pedestrian and have the right-of-way.
California’s 2024 Bicycle Crossing Intersection With Walk Sign Law
In an effort to reduce the number of bicycle vs. vehicle accidents in California, a new law is going into effect next year that offers cyclists similar protection to pedestrians.
The upcoming change allows cyclists to follow pedestrians in crossing an intersection on a red light when a “walk” signal flashes.
Approved Assembly Bill No. 1909 defines the amendment as follows:
“…under existing law, a pedestrian facing a solid red traffic control signal may enter the intersection if directed to do so by a pedestrian control signal displaying “WALK” or an approved “walking person” symbol. This bill would, commencing January 1, 2024, extend this authorization to cross the intersection to a bicycle, unless otherwise directed by a bicycle control signal.”
This change in combination with other amendments to the traffic regulations will offer more protection to cyclists and pedestrians as these modes of transportation and travel are so prevalent in California. Also, regardless of if you are walking or riding a bicycle through an intersection, this does not give a driver an excuse to disregard your safety and proceed through the crosswalk with no regard for your safety. You deserve to be protected in any case and if you were injured by a vehicle as a cyclist, contacting a bicycle accident attorney should be at the top of your list.
What to Do After a Bike Accident
If you are involved in a bike accident in California, it’s essential to take the following steps to protect your well-being and preserve your legal rights:
- Check for Injuries: First, check yourself and others involved in the accident for injuries. If anyone is seriously injured, call 911 immediately for medical assistance.
- Move to a Safe Location: If you are able, move to a safe area away from traffic to avoid further danger.
- Call the Police: Contact law enforcement to report the accident. Having an official police report can be crucial for insurance claims and legal proceedings.
- Exchange Information: Exchange contact and insurance information with the other parties involved, including drivers, pedestrians, or other cyclists.
- Gather Evidence: If you can, take photos of the accident scene, your injuries, and any property damage. Obtain contact information from witnesses who saw the accident occur.
- Seek Medical Attention: Even if you don’t feel seriously injured, it’s essential to get a medical evaluation as some injuries may not be immediately apparent.
- Consult with an Attorney: If you suffered injuries or significant property damage, consider consulting with a personal injury attorney who specializes in bike accidents. An attorney can help protect your rights, gather evidence, and advocate on your behalf.
Remember, after a bike accident, your health and well-being are top priorities. Taking the necessary steps to ensure your safety and protect your legal rights can help you navigate the aftermath of the accident more effectively. Consulting with a knowledgeable attorney can be particularly beneficial in understanding your options for seeking compensation if you have suffered injuries and damages due to the accident.
How Can You Avoid Bike Related Accidents?
Bicycling in crosswalks demands heightened caution and awareness. Cyclists should always yield to pedestrians, exercise patience, and reduce speed while crossing. Maintaining clear visibility by using hand signals and making eye contact with drivers and pedestrians is essential for ensuring safe passage through crosswalks. Additionally, wearing reflective gear and using bike lights during low-light conditions can significantly enhance your visibility, reducing the risk of accidents.
Trust Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers After a Bicycle Accident
In the unfortunate event of a bike accident in a crosswalk, determining liability can be complex. Factors such as the cyclist’s adherence to traffic rules, the driver’s negligence, or pedestrian behavior can all impact the outcome.
If you’re involved in a bike accident in a crosswalk, seeking legal advice from experienced bicycle accident attorneys like the team at Sally Morin is essential. We can assess the unique circumstances of your case, guide you through the claims process, and advocate on your behalf to protect your rights and seek fair compensation for medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering.
At Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we care about the people of California and work hard to ensure our clients get the full settlement they deserve. Call us at 877-380-8852 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.