October 2, 2017 Category: Bicycle Accidents
Despite having some of California’s most bicycle-friendly roads, bike-related traffic accidents are still a problem in Pasadena. In August, a bicycle rider was seriously injured after he collided with a car on Walnut Street. The city of Pasadena actually has over 12 miles of dedicated bike lanes on its roadways. Walnut Street is not one of those roads. Had the bicyclist traveled one block north to Corson Street – which has a dedicated bicycle lane – he may have been able to avoid an accident.
Causes of Bicycle-Related Accidents
The bicyclist may decide to pursue compensation from the 74-year-old woman who was driving the car that struck him. He will have to establish that:
- The woman had a responsibility to drive safely;
- She failed to drive safely for some reason; and
- This failure resulted in the accident that caused his injuries.
The details of the accident in which the Pasadena bicyclist was injured were not released. However, there are many frequently cited causes of bicycle-related accidents that could potentially explain why the accident happened. Common causes of bicycle accidents include:
- Operating a bicycle on the wrong side of the road;
- Cars failing to yield to bicycles while making right-hand turns;
- Failing to install a front-facing light and rear reflector on a bicycle;
- Disobeying traffic signs and signals; and
Duty to Share the Road Safely
Everyone who shares the road has a responsibility to behave in a way that does not put others at risk. This include car drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and even pedestrians. Drivers and riders must follow the rules of the road, refrain from distracted driving, and operate their vehicle in a safe way. Pedestrians must follow rules about walking in Pasadena, refrain from distracted walking, and remain alert and aware. An interesting question is presented when cities like Pasadena go to great lengths to install safety features on its roads. Should bicycle riders in Pasadena be required to use dedicated bike lanes if it is reasonable to do so?
Bicycle Riders Required to Use Bike Lanes in Pasadena
Bicyclists have a duty to use reasonable care and caution while riding on Pasadena streets. This means following all bicycle-related laws as well as all regular traffic laws. As it turns out, bicyclists must use dedicated bike lanes when they are available. California Vehicle Code 21208 VC specifically states that “whenever a bicycle lane has been established on a roadway, any person operating a bicycle upon the roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction shall ride in the bicycle lane.” There are three primary exceptions to this rule:
- To safely pass another bike, pedestrian, or vehicle;
- To make a left-hand turn at intersection or into a private road or driveway; or
- To safely avoid debris or other hazards.
So, when a bike lane has been established, bicyclists must generally use them. The law says nothing, however, about going out of your way to travel on roads that have bike lanes. It may be a good idea for the Pasadena legislature to consider changing the law to require bicyclists to choose to travel on roads that have bike lanes.
Extending Pasadena’s Bicycle Laws
Bike-related accidents in Pasadena may decrease if bicyclists are required to make a reasonable effort to use roads that have bike lanes. Since more than 12 miles of roads in the city are equipped with bike lanes, it may not be difficult to choose a path that is paved with these safety lanes. For example, in the case mentioned above, the bicyclist would only have had to travel one block north to find a bike lane. He could have traveled down the bike lane on Corson Street safely, rather than risk his life on Walnut Street.
The issue may be with determining what a “reasonable effort” to use roads with bike lanes would be. There are large sections of Pasadena that are not paved with bike lanes. It may be difficult to make reasonable alterations to a route in those areas. In some cases, bicyclists may not be familiar with the area and may not know where dedicated bike lanes are. Pasadena could post signs to direct bike riders to these areas.
Changing the law to require the reasonable use of nearby bike lanes could reduce the number of bike-related traffic accidents in Pasadena. These new laws could impose a new element of comparative fault in bike-related accidents. Bicycle riders who are injured while riding on the road could then potentially face a reduced recovery if they did not follow the law. Faced with losing out on compensation, many bicycle riders may choose to use nearby streets with bike lanes.
If you have been injured in a Pasadena bicycle accident you may be entitled to compensation. It is important to speak with an attorney to understand your legal rights and potential recovery. Contact our Pasadena personal injury office today for a free consultation.