According to almost every state’s traffic or vehicle law, bicycles are considered vehicles. They are held to the same expectation of following the laws of the road that apply to cars, trucks, and motorcycles. If a cyclist and another vehicle collide, whoever has the liability is determined by generally accepted principles of negligence. Because bicyclists are driving a smaller “vehicle” that is powered by their own legs, there is usually more sympathy for the cyclist. However, if a bike does not follow the signals of the road, they will not be entitled to recover. For example, if a bike passes through an intersection, and gets hit by a car who has a green light, it is not officially the car’s fault. As long as bicyclists are aware of the rules of the road, and maximize their visibility, this should lower the risk of an intersection accident.

The same right-of-way rules apply. A bike is held responsible for the same expectations as cars. When two vehicles approach an intersection not controlled by a traffic signal, the first to arrive has the right of way. If they arrive at the same time, the vehicle to the right has the right of way.

An interesting fact–the majority of bicycle crashes, 59% happen with only the cyclist, who loses control of the bike. Only 11% of bicycle accidents occur with a motor vehicle, but of these, 45% occur in intersections. An intersection is by far the most dangerous place for a cyclist sharing the road.

Online legal encyclopedia, NOLO, has some tips to help avoid accidents at intersections:

  • ¬†Increase visibility of the bike and cyclist. Bikes can easily blend into the background from a car’s perspective, because of their size, clothing, sun, and other factors, ¬†so as a cyclist, make sure to keep yourself visible: front and rear lamps, and reflective or brightly colored clothing.
  • Ride defensively. Good idea for both cars and bikes.
  • Be on the lookout, and generally aware–of course a legal requirement for both cars and bikes as well.

If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident involving a bicycle and another vehicle, and have any question of liability, contact Utah Bicycle Lawyers at Christensen & Hymas for a FREE consultation. 801-506-0800.