Thousands of cyclists are injured each year in automobile accidents. Furthermore, given the obvious size and weight difference between a bike and car, many of these accidents are fatal. In 2019, 846 bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents and the majority of them occurred in an intersection. Whether your preferred method of transportation is driving or riding a bike, there are some important things about biking laws you need to know to keep both yourself and those around you safe.
Bicycles Are Considered Legal Vehicles
In all fifty states, bicycles are considered legal vehicles. This is the most significant of the biking laws because it means that cyclists are held to the same standard when operating their vehicle and they must also follow the same rules of the road as automobile drivers. Cyclists must adhere to traffic lights, signs, and crosswalk signals. They must always ride in the same direction as traffic as well.
In the Greater Philadelphia area, bicycles are not allowed on sidewalks unless the rider is under the age of 13. In addition, cyclists are not required to ride in a bike lane if one is present. If the street seems too crowded or hazardous, a cyclist can of course walk their bike on the sidewalk. But when sharing the road with vehicles, cyclists should signal properly when making turns or shifting lanes, and stick to the right most lane when possible. This is in coordination with the general rule that slower traffic should remain in the lane furthest to the right, while passing or faster traffic should remain on the left. For more specifics on bicycle laws in the Philadelphia area visit philadelphiastreets.com.
Biking Laws Are In Place to Protect Cyclists
To no one’s surprise, when a collision occurs between an automobile and a bicycle, the cyclist is generally the party that sufferers the most physical injury. Not only is the car bigger, but there is no barrier to protect a cyclist from impact. This is why biking laws exist and similarly, why certain driving laws are in place regarding cyclists on the road. If you are a driver, it is important to know your legal duty. And if you are a cyclist, it’s important to know your rights. Below are a few laws in place in the Greater Philadelphia area that you may be unaware of.
- Motor vehicle operators or passengers must make sure it is safe to exit into moving traffic. In other words, they need to check before opening their car doors. “Dooring” accidents or when drivers exit their car without paying attention to passing cyclists result in numerous injuries a year. This is a special situation in which the automobile driver bears the sole legal responsibility.
- Drivers turning right must yield to the right away of a cyclist proceeding straight.
- Drivers can merge into a bike lane in order to make a turn but must do so safely and yield to bicycles occupying the lane.
- Pennsylvania is the only state which has a four-feet passing law on the books under all circumstances. This means that if you need to pass a cyclist, either in a bike lane or the right most lane, you as the driver are required to ensure at least four feet of distance between your vehicle and the cyclist.
Biking Laws Do NOT Default Negligence to Anyone
It’s true that drivers in automobiles should be extra cautious and alert when there are cyclists on the road. Too many times, cyclists are side swiped or hit due to a distracted or impaired driver. However, that is not always the case. Negligence in a vehicle-bike collision does not default to any party. Like any personal injury case or vehicle on vehicle collision, evidence is collected, witness testimonies are given, and a police report is filed. No party is found negligent without proof. And there have been many cases where the cyclist is found at fault. If you or someone you know is involved in such an incident, consulting with a hit and run accident lawyer can provide clarity on the situation.
The resolution in a vehicle-bike collision case usually comes down to who had the right away. An intersection with traffic lights generally make it easier to identify who the right away belonged to, but if it didn’t there are still laws regarding how to handle turns that are in play.
It’s crucial for cyclists to follow bicycle laws that are in place because if they are involved in an accident and it was their fault, they will not be able to receive any compensation for injuries they suffered, no matter the severity. If a cyclist, for example, ran a red light and ended up involved in an accident, it would be the cyclist’s fault. Their right to compensation for any injuries is waived and in turn, the automobile driver could actually demand compensation for property damage or any injuries they sustained.
If you or a loved one was involved in a vehicle-bike collision, please reach out to The Cochran Firm Philadelphia today. No matter what side of the accident you were on, you deserve a fair and just resolution. The best way to prevent these accidents is to drive defensively and adhere to bike laws put in place by your state and local government bodies.
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