A common misconception of cycling safety is that different rules of the road apply to motorists and cyclists; this is not necessarily true. The truth is that cyclists have many of the same rights as motorists while riding on the road. According to the League of American Bicyclists, each year approximately 45,000 riders are injured in collisions with motor vehicles and many of those injured riders are not informed as to what their rights are, which could lead to confusion or a cyclist not receiving the proper defense that they deserve.
Cyclists are given the following rights according to Pima Association of Governments:
- Bicycles can be parked on the sidewalk as long as they don’t hinder any vehicles or pedestrians.
- Cyclists may move away from the right side of the road in order to pass parked vehicles, avoid parked cars or other obstacles, make left hand turns, pass another cyclist.
- Cyclists can ride side by side with a limit of two bicycles.
- Cyclists are required to wear reflectors and have a white headlight when riding at night.
If you are involved in a collision where these rights are terminated you will be eligible to press charges. This year alone, 307,753 car accidents have been reported with being involved in a distracted driving case. It has also been measured that drivers using hand held devices while driving are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves or others. The state of Arizona is heavily pushing for a ban on texting while driving. Currently, if a distracted driver hits you while riding your bike, the driver will be fined a minimum of $250. Punishment will continue to increase depending on the severity of the accident.
The most important thing to remember if you are ever involved in a collision is to remain calm. In addition, wearing a helmet at all times will greatly reduce any risk of injury. According to the Live Strong foundation and the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, head injuries are linked to 62.6% of bicycle-related fatalities. This is an astonishing amount when you think of how easily a helmet can reduce the percentage. “The lifetime medical cost savings will total between $197 and $256 million,” for those who do wear a helmet, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.
We recommend always riding a bike with a cell phone just in case something were to ever happen. Similar to a car collision, you will want to take pictures of the collision damage and collect information from the motorist. If your bike becomes damaged from the collision, take it to the shop and have them write you a report for the damage with the receipt.
Thomas M. Richardson is an attorney and partner at Friedl Richardson Trial Lawyers in Phoenix. Friedl Richardson specializes in premise liability cases, as well as car accidents, bicycle accidents and dog-bite related injuries. For more information, please visit www.azrichlaw.com or call 602-553-2220.