[COLUMN] California bicycle laws

AS we all know, California has the perfect weather and scenery for those of us who enjoy riding bicycles. Besides using bicycling as a form of exercise, it is also environmentally friendly.

California communities are leading the charge in promoting the use of bicycles for short trips rather than cars by creating bicycle-friendly streets and roads.

However, despite the efforts of cities to improve bicycle safety, 2 percent of all traffic deaths and crash-related injuries involve bicycles.

Quieter cars and vehicles present a bigger danger especially now that car manufacturers are developing vehicles that are electric or a hybrid of electric and gas. These types of vehicles are quieter, which requires bicyclists and pedestrians to be more alert. The lack of noise-related warning creates dangers on the road, and in particular at intersections, or when a car is backing out of a driveway.

There are a couple of questions we need to highlight. First, must cyclists use an available bike lane?

A conflict between bicycle and car takes place every day when an impatient automobile is driving behind a cyclist. The driver wants to pass the cyclist on the left but does not have enough room to do so.

The impatient driver does not keep a proper distance between the car and the cyclist. Any movement by the cyclist will place him in danger of being hit by the car. Drivers need to understand that the cyclist has the right to ‘take the lane’ under certain circumstances.

Second, what direction must a cyclist travel on a sidewalk?  Vehicle Code section 21650.1 states that a bicycle “operated on a roadway shall be operated in the same as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway.” The case of Spriesterbach v. Holland (2013) 215 Cal.App.4th 255, has put this question to sleep for now.

In that case, the court concluded that section 21650.1 does not require a bicycle riding on a sidewalk to travel in the same direction as the flow of traffic on the roadway. The court reasoned that a sidewalk is not a ‘shoulder of a highway.”

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If you have further questions, an experienced Injury Lawyer at the Law Offices of Tavakoli & Associates will be able to help you navigate the issues and provide you with the aggressive representation you need and deserve.

Atty. Payam Tavakoli

Payam Tavakoli is an attorney in Los Angeles practicing civil ligation. As a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, and State Bar of California litigation section, he has personally handled and litigated hundreds of cases in California courts (state and federal), including pre-trial settlements as well as jury trials and court trials. His firm consists of staff and associates dedicated to several departments such as personal injury. His personal interest, knowledge, and involvement in the field allow him to be active, yet selective, in representing a qualified number of cases. For more information, please visit http://tavakolilaw.com.

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