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Bicycle Rider Responsibilities vs. Motorist Responsibilities in California

August 23, 2018 Bicycle Accident Blog

Knowing Bicycle Rider Responsibilities and common bicycle laws can help you remain safe and support your story if you get injured.

Motor vehicle drivers and bicycle riders generally have the same rights and duties on California roads. However, both must provide due diligence to prevent car and bike collisions. Below is an overview of these specific responsibilities under the California Vehicle Code.

Motor Vehicle Drivers’ Responsibilities Around Bicycles

When traveling near people riding bicycles, motor vehicle drivers are expected to:

Stay out of bicycle lanes. Motor vehicles may not travel in a bicycle lane unless parking is permitted there, or the driver is entering or leaving the roadway or preparing for a turn. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) notes that motorists may enter a bike lane no more than 200 feet before starting a turn.

Keep a fair distance when overtaking and passing. The Three Feet for Safety Act requires motorists overtaking and passing a bicycle traveling in the same direction to pass with at least three feet between them. If traffic or roadway conditions prevent a motorist from complying with this rule, the driver must slow to a reasonable speed and only pass the bicycle when it’s safe. Even with three feet of space between themselves and bicycles, drivers are expected to make safe, predictable movements. When passing, it’s important to avoid forcing the bike into a parked vehicle or open car door.

Look out. Motorists must look carefully for bicycles before opening doors next to moving traffic or before turning, changing lanes, or entering traffic, according to the California DMV. Checking over blind spots is critical.

Bicycle Rider Responsibilities Around Motor Vehicles

When traveling near motor vehicles, bike riders are expected to:

Avoid alcohol. Like motor vehicle drivers, it is illegal for people to ride a bike while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

Never hitch rides. Bicycle riders may not attach themselves to any motor vehicle traveling on the road.

Ride to the right in the same direction. Bicyclists traveling on a roadway or on the shoulder of a highway must ride in the same direction as other vehicles are required to travel. Bicycle riders traveling slower than the flow of traffic must ride in the bike lane when available or as close as possible to the right of the roadway.

Stay off restricted roads. Bike riders must avoid traveling on freeways or expressways where the California Department of Transportation has prohibited it.

Protect pedestrians. Like motor vehicle drivers, bicyclists must always give the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks.

Both bicyclists and motorists should review the California Vehicle Code to ensure they comply with state laws.

Negligent driving can endanger the lives of bike riders, who have far less bodily protection than people inside motor vehicles. If you sustained injuries or a loved one was killed in a bicycle accident, the attorneys at CaseyGerry can explain how to protect your rights. Contact our law firm to schedule a confidential consultation with our experienced team.