Two Tons And A Bicycle

Well, at first blush, it might be a funny story — a young couple walking along the street when a very nice Mercedes passes them going in the other direction. Then they hear the thump and they immediately know something not good has happened. They turn around to see that the driver of the Mercedes decided to make a U-turn and drove directly into the path of a bicycle; both the bicycle and the rider are lying in a heap on the pavement. The couple is made speechless when the driver of the Mercedes jumps out and immediately screams — "Look what you have done to my car!" Fortunately, the driver comes to his senses, perhaps realizing that there might be liability lurking somewhere in his future and offers assistance to the cyclist who is able to get to his feet and probably grateful that he is not on the way to the county morgue.

This cyclist did fare better than in another incident recently reported in bikinginla.com — the cyclist was on his way to work riding with the flow of traffic and the next thing witnesses saw was the cyclist sprawled on the pavement. The offending car, a Porsche driven by a female, pulls over, the window opens and the driver yells "somebody should call 911" — whereupon the woman makes U-turn and drives off. Fortunately a witness was able to catch the license plate number.

According to national statistics, 52,000 cyclists were injured in 2010 and 618 cyclists were killed. The injury figure, as pedbikeinfo notes, is undoubtedly low since many injuries are not reported to the police. Using hospital emergency room records, it is believed that only as few as 10 percent of cycle injuries are reported and recorded. Locally, in Los Angeles and Orange counties, 37 cyclists were killed in 2011.

It is important for cyclists and drivers alike to know some of the rules established by California law. The same rules that apply to motor vehicles on the highway apply to bicycles — including stopping at a red light or stop sign, and yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk or exercising "due care" when a pedestrian is crossing outside of a crosswalk. Bicycle riders should ride with the flow of traffic as far right as is safe (not necessarily as far right as possible).

A new rule, just signed into law by Governor Brown, in September, now imposes what is nationally known as the "three foot rule." California is the 22nd state to enact this rule, endorsed by both the American Automobile Association and the League of American Bicyclists, that requires motorists to allow at least three feet of space when passing a cyclist. The vehicle must slow their speed if the three-foot allowance is impracticable and pass the cyclist only if it can be done safely. These provisions became effective on September 16, 2014.

These are just some of the rules that apply when it comes to bicycles on the road, and if you are a cyclist and are injured by the actions of a driver of a motor vehicle, immediately seek the advice of an experienced California personal injury attorney.

Free Consultation — Contact Our Firm

To speak with a lawyer about a bicycle accident case in the Los Angeles area, contact the Law Offices of Mauro Fiore, Jr., by calling 626-593-9031.