Cyclists have the same rights on the road as other vehicles, even though the size difference may make cyclistsoccasionally forfeit some of them for safety’s sake. The Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC) established your rights and responsibilities as an operator of a vehicle that are equal to those of automobile drivers with some exceptions such as stipulations that are not applicable to you as a cyclist. The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances established the UVC as a reference that addresses traffic laws in the United States.
Bike Accident Attorney Spencer Farris put together a list of things a cyclist must know to ensure their safety and rights on the road.
Enjoying Your Statutory and Constitutional Rights
Your rights as a cyclist are included in the UVC, and they are accepted by most states. Many countries include cyclists’ rights in their constitutions so that you enjoy safety when you ride.
Respecting Pedestrians’ Right of Way
A crosswalk is a protected space that allows pedestrians to safely cross a street, and the law requires you to yield when pedestrians are present.In addition, pedestrians have the right of way whether or not they are within the boundary of a crosswalk. The lines that define the area for pedestrian traffic require you to stop short of them.
Observing Traffic Signals
For your personal safety and for the protection of other drivers and vehicles, traffic laws require you to obey traffic signals. Even if you see a clear way to pass through an intersection, it is against the law to ignore a stop light. The rules apply to traffic signs as well, and stop signs require you to come to a full stop. Law enforcement officials have the authority to issue a traffic citation if you fail to observe posted signals. While you do not need a driver’s license as a cyclist, having an ID is helpful in case you are issued a citation.
Traveling at Prevailing Speeds
You have the right to use automobile lanes when you travel in the same direction and at the same speed as other vehicles on the road. When you ride in a lane that is close to parked cars, remember to leave space for someone to open a door unexpectedly.
Some municipalities have designated bike lanes that are generally safer for bicycles, but you may leave them if you choose. Some states do not allow anyone over the age of 13 to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk, but laws usually allow you to use them if you push your bike. Merging into traffic is the same for you as for larger vehicles, requiring you to exercise caution. You must wait until an opening in the traffic allows you to enter without slowing the speed of approaching vehicles. As with automobiles, a signal that indicates your intention to merge is required.
Understanding and Using Hand Signals
Automobile drivers rarely use signals since most cars have elaborate lights that clearly indicate their intention to make a turn. As a cyclist, you are required to use your hands to show which way you plan to turn. You can indicate a left turn by holding your left arm out straight to the side or a right turn by bending it upward at the elbow. Show that you are slowing down by holding your arm straight out and slightly down to give the driver behind you a chance to respond safely.
Bike accidents are not uncommon. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation released a quick fact sheet reporting 677 deaths and 48,000 injuries related to cyclist-vehicle crashes. Knowing your rights as a cyclist is very pertinent when it comes to your and others' safety on the road. For more rules of the road for bicycles, visit The League of American Bicyclists' site.
The S.E. Farris Law Firm is a personal injury law firm that handles all types of cycling and pedestrian accidents. To learn more about them, visit www.farrislaw.net.