Have you ever seen a bike obstructing traffic in the street and wondered if it was legal? Maybe a careless cyclist cycling in traffic caused your car crash. In terms of assigning responsibility, would the bicyclist be deemed a car or a pedestrian? Unfortunately, the answer is difficult and varies depending on where you are.
As usual, if you have a question regarding the law and how it will be implemented in your local jurisdiction, you should seek the advice of a skilled, experienced attorney in your region. Laws change rapidly, and local applicability varies, so keep in mind that this is merely a primer, and only an attorney licensed in your region should be consulted.
Bicycle Road Rules
Bicycles, in particular, exist in an intriguing hybrid region of the law. After all, although seeing someone riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is routine, seeing somebody driving a car on the sidewalk is likely to be met by flashing lights and sirens. Some jurisdictions enable local towns to create their own local laws for how bicycles should be handled, complicating the decision between pedestrians and vehicles. Nonetheless, as a general rule, many states and local governments see bicycles as a type of vehicle subject to at least some, if not all, traffic regulations, much like a car.
For example, in many places, if a bicycle is driven on the street, the rider must obey all traffic control devices and rules, such as traffic signs and lights. Similarly, just as many states are implementing rules prohibiting mobile phone use while driving, similar regulations are enacted for bike riders. To ride a bicycle on the road in certain states, you must have a license plate.
Operating a bicycle while drunk or otherwise incapacitated is a felony, much as driving while intoxicated or impaired. Indeed, while a driver’s license is not required to use a bicycle in many states, one may receive a ticket, be arrested, and even have penalties against their driver’s license for infractions while riding a bike; they may even lose their driver’s license for riding a bicycle recklessly!
Some states also have rules that solely apply to those who ride bicycles. Bicyclists, for example, are obliged in many places to go as far to the right as feasible while riding on the roads. Bicycle helmets are required in several states, and some cities compel bikers to utilize designated bike lanes when riding on the streets.
In truth, individuals riding bicycles are more likely to be deemed pedestrians than any other type of vehicle. As a result, unlike pedestrians, bikes seldom have the total right-of-way in crosswalks. And, much like in a car, bikers can be held responsible for car accidents that pedestrians would not or could not create.
Contact Franks & Rechenberg. P.C. Attorneys at Law to help with your case.