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Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

August 23, 2018 Bicycle Accident Blog

Over the better part of a century, our firm has been representing people who were injured on the road as a result of someone else’s negligence. Certain careless acts by people in cars are particularly dangerous around bicycles. Learn more about the most common causes of bicycle accidents from our expert bicycle accident attorneys.

Opening a Vehicle Door Without Looking First

In the State of California, people riding bicycles have the legal right to move out of the bike lane or away from the right side of the road to avoid hazards. If a person inside a car opens the door without checking for approaching bikes, that simple move can strike a bicyclist or force him or her to swerve into danger. The collision is sometimes called “dooring.”

The California Vehicle Code notes that, “No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”

The law emphasizes that motorists’ responsibility does not end when the vehicle is at a complete stop. Looking for upcoming people on bikes is critical to prevent collisions.

Left Turns

Often called a “left-hook,” motorists may fail to properly look around before making a left turn or U-turn. If a person is riding a bicycle close by, the vehicle could broadside or sideswipe them, as they have little or no time to react. As bicyclists are extremely vulnerable around cars, this type of collision can result in catastrophic injury or death.


The Three Feet for Safety Act in the California Vehicle Code specifically addresses the issue of overtaking a bicycle.

A motor vehicle driver overtaking and passing a bicycle moving in the same direction on a highway must do so at a safe distance that does not interfere with the safety of the person riding the bicycle. That means considering the size and speed of the motor vehicle and the bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and the surface and width of the highway.

More specifically, motorists must provide a distance of three feet when overtaking or passing a person on a bicycle riding in the same direction. If a driver cannot comply with this rule, he or she must slow to a reasonable speed and pass only when it would not endanger the bicyclist.

Parking Lot, Sidewalk, Crosswalk and Driveway Collisions

Motor vehicle drivers may carelessly enter or leave a parking lot or driveway. Failure to check their surroundings can mean coming into a bike rider’s path. In San Diego, bicycles are permitted in many areas besides the roadways, which only stresses the importance of motorists’ due diligence in watching for bikes.

Many people mistakenly think that under all circumstances, people on bikes must ride in the same direction as motor vehicles are required to travel. However, in some scenarios, they are allowed to travel in a different direction than vehicular traffic. It is for this reason that motorists must look in all directions when traveling in a parking lot, sidewalk, crosswalk, driveway, and anywhere else.

Even if you’re perfectly safe when riding a bicycle, one careless move by a person in a motor vehicle can seriously injure you. If you were hurt in a bicycle crash that someone else caused, contact CaseyGerry to schedule a consultation. Our firm has been successfully representing injured people for more than 70 years. We can explain how to protect your rights and what to expect.