Bicycles in Los Angeles & Southern California
By Lou Cutrone
Nearly 10 million people live in 88 cities that comprise Los Angeles County. Of those millions, 2 percent (and growing!) rely solely on their bicycle to get to work and move about the County. While the freeway system of Los Angeles is expansive, only 1,300 miles of bikeways cover the city and are accessible by only 38 percent of the County, putting a great deal of those 98,000 cyclists in direct contact with automotive and pedestrian traffic everyday. As traffic congestion worsens, this already potentially dangerous situation has become even more hazardous. Every year, California sees over 100 fatal bike related crashes and thousands more resulting in serious injury. California injury lawyers routinely handle cases regarding bicycle accidents.
Legal Rights & Responsibilities of Bicyclists in Southern California
It is important for both cyclists and drivers to understand the nature of their mutual responsibilities. California Vehicle Code (CVC 21200) states that all bicyclists shall have the same rights and responsibilities as automotive drivers. Many California drivers do not understand that cyclists have the legal right to share the road and that they can be considered negligent if they’ve failed to exercise reasonable care and consideration for the safety of their road partners. Likewise, cyclists must obey all traffic signals and controls, including stop lights and stop signs, just as cars are required to do. In the event that there is no bike lane, bicyclists must ride as far to the right of the road as is possible and always in the same direction as traffic. Additionally, cyclists must have rear and pedal reflectors and may not wear headphones in both ears while riding.
In order to maximize bicycling safety, Cutrone and Associates recommends these following tips:
- Wear a helmet in good condition
- Wear bright or reflective clothing, especially at night
- Obey all traffic lights and stop signs
- Alert drivers using standard hand signals
- Purchase and attach bright bicycle lights on both the front and back of your bike
- Constantly scan parked cars to avoid being “doored”
- Read and know your cyclists’ rights in the California Vehicle Code
Los Angeles & Southern California Auto vs. Bicycle Accidents
With bicyclists and cars sharing the streets of Southern California, accidents involving autos and bicyclists do occur, particularly at intersections. Especially in car-centric Los Angeles, drivers do not often expect there to be bikes on the road and therefore are not alert in looking out for them. The smaller size of a bike and cyclist relative to other vehicles can create visibility challenges as well. Drivers and cyclists alike may miscalculate the speed of other nearby vehicles when making decisions on the road.
Los Angeles personal injury attorneys routinely handle cases arising from auto vs. bicycle accidents. Often, the injuries to those involved–particularly to the bicyclist–are severe, and can include broken bones, spinal injury, traumatic brain injury, and even death.
Determining who is at fault in an auto vs. bicycle accident often comes down to a question of which vehicle–bike or auto–had the right-of-way. Because both car and bicycle are considered “vehicles” by the law, both are required equally to follow the rules of the road. Therefore, a bicyclist who failed to stop completely at a stop sign or red light, disobeyed traffic signals, or did not yield the right-of-way to a vehicle arriving first at an uncontrolled intersection would likely be determined to be the at-fault party in an auto vs. pedestrian accident.
Even in accidents where the cyclist did diligently follow the rules of the road and yield the right-of-way as required, the bicyclists can still be found partially responsible for the accident. Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyers frequently find that a bicyclist’s failure to take steps to increase his visibility (such as using reflectors and lights and wearing bright and/or reflective clothing) may be used to assign a portion of responsibility for the accident to the cyclist. This sharing of fault for an accident is called comparative negligence. The skilled California personal injury lawyers at Cutrone & Associates are familiar with the law as it relates to auto vs. bicycle accidents and can help ensure a fair and favorable determination of fault.
Los Angeles & Southern California Bicycle vs. Pedestrian Accident
Sometimes in accidents may occur between bicyclists and pedestrians. Southern California bicycle vs. pedestrian accidents may occur in crosswalks, on the sidewalk, or on mixed-use trails. In these types of accidents, injuries to both parties may be significant or even severe, as bicycles are capable of traveling at much greater speeds than a person on foot. Our team of experienced bicycle accident attorneys at Cutrone & Associates has seen a number of serious injuries resulting from bicycle vs. pedestrian accidents, including broken bones and permanent injuries.
Generally speaking, pedestrians nearly always have the right-of-way on sidewalks, crossing legally at a crosswalk or corner, and on mixed-use trails (specific rules regarding trail use and right-of-way may be posted at trailheads). Yet not all Southern California bicycle vs. pedestrian accidents are always the fault of the cyclist. While a bicyclist does indeed have a duty to look out for and yield to pedestrians, comparative negligence can also apply to these types of accidents if the pedestrian’s conduct was unsafe or in someway contributed to the accident. The experienced Los Angeles bicycle accident team at Cutrone & Associates can help you sort through these questions and ensure that your rights are protected.
What to Do if You Are Involved in a Southern California Bicycle Accident
If you have suffered an injury as a result of a Southern California bicycle accident, you may be eligible to file a claim for your damages under the other parties’ insurance. The Southern California bicycle accident lawyers at Cutrone & Associates are thoroughly knowledgeable in the specifics involved in bicycle accident cases and are available to discuss your options if you have suffered an accident. Contact Cutrone & Associates for a free, no-obligation consultation.