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Bicycle accidents and ignoring the rules of the road

Bicycle accidents are, unfortunately, an all too common occurrence, especially in urban areas where cycling is popular. Often, the harm resulting from these accidents is serious, if not fatal. This is particularly true in cases where cyclists are not wearing protective helmets.

It goes without saying, of course, that drivers can and should be held responsible for causing harm to cyclists. It is also true, though, that cyclists are sometimes responsible for causing accidents as well, at least in part. Too often, cyclists act as if they are not bound by rules of the road like motorists. That is a problem from a safety standpoint, and a potential issue in personal injury cases involving cyclists.

The fact is that cyclists have both rights and responsibilities on the road. Kentucky law, as the law in other states, is explicit that bicycles are considered vehicles and that cyclists have the right to use roadways in Kentucky. By the same token, they are also bound to follow the rules of the road.

Bicyclists are required, for instance, to obey all traffic signs and signals. They must use reflectors and lights when riding at night or in dark conditions. State law specifies the specific properties of these lights. Bicyclists must also sound an audible warning when passing pedestrians or other cyclists, must have breaks and a seat, must limit passengers to the number designed for each bike, with exemptions for child carriers and tandems. Bicyclists must have at least one hand on their handlebars at all times, and must not grab or attach to other vehicles.

Bicyclist must use bike lanes whenever it is feasible to do so, though they may ride on roadway shoulders, and may ride two abreast. The rules regarding roadway positioning, turning and right of way at intersections, signaling turns, sidewalk riding, and other matters are quite specific, and bicyclists should be aware of and compliant with all these rules.

The fact of the matter is that many cyclists either don’t know or choose not to follow these rules. When an accident occurs as a result, this can factor into the question of liability. We’ll say more about this in our next post.