Many states have laws requiring motorists to keep a safe distance when passing bicycles on the road. Where these laws exist, the distance is usually three feet. Some places require more. There’s no doubt that keeping a reasonable distance is necessary for safety. The question is how much these bicycle clearance laws help.
Inadequate clearance is a factor in a relatively small proportion of bicycle accidents. Visibility problems and reckless disregard for cyclists are bigger factors. Lack of clearance can be a cause of rear-end collisions, which are especially likely to cause serious injury. Fortunately, this type of accident isn’t very common.
Enforcement is another difficulty. How often will a police officer notice that a car is passing a bike too closely? If the officer does notice, how likely is the incident to result in a ticket? The law is most likely to come into play when there is an accident. Failure to maintain required clearance can help establish that a motorist is at fault.
What is sufficient clearance?
Intuitively, the distance required for safety should increase as the speed limit goes up. However, country roads with lower speeds can be the most dangerous. They often have poorly maintained shoulders, and a cyclist may need to swerve to avoid a pothole. If a car is passing too closely, this could have deadly consequences.
Cyclists shouldn’t cling to the very edge of the road to maximize clearance. Doing that gives them nowhere to go if they encounter a bad spot in the pavement. They’re actually safer if they have some buffer space toward the edge, even if they’re closer to vehicles.
As with many situations, laws by themselves aren’t enough to make people safer. Motorists need to be aware of bicycles in the road and give them a safe berth. Cyclists need to stay as visible as possible and avoid unpredictable behavior. Clearance laws serve as a reminder, but they may not do much more than that.
If you’ve been involved in an accident while on a bicycle, contact Mr. Brustin to find out what your options are.
If you ride in your city, you may think it has pretty decent bikeability. After all, you get around alright. However, not every city that people ride their bike in is considered bikeable. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a checklist for local riders to access the bikeability of their town.
This checklist covers items like whether or not lights register for bikes, if drivers behave appropriately around bikes, and even the basics of whether or not there are bike paths to ride on. This can help riders access the true bikeability of any local area. Furthermore, it also works to point out problems that we might not have really taken stock in, such as a lack of really safe places to secure a bike or too many scary dogs that harass riders.
Making Your City More Bikeable
Unfortunately, your local area, like many, will probably score pretty low. The good news is that the checklist can be a good way for local cyclists to identify and address problems. The checklist even adds on ways that you can foster healthy change in your community.
Yet, even by knowing what you need to change, it can be difficult to foster healthy change, especially by yourself. If you are an avid bike rider in your town, you may want to find, or even start, a group of like-minded individuals that can help show your local government that, yes, there are cyclists in your city and they want a safe and friendly place to ride.
Unfortunately, even if you are able to make a positive change in your community, change often comes slowly. Until less bikeable cities become better, they pose a risk for those that do ride the roads. If you have been injured while riding, contact us today. The Law Office of Gary Brustin is dedicated to representing the rights of injured riders, and we want to help you get the compensation that you deserve.
Everyone likes to think that when an officer arrives on the scene of an accident, they look at the whole situation with an objective eye to best gather the facts of an accident. While there are certainly some officers that do this, when it comes to cycling accidents, it is no secret that there is a certain level of bias against the cyclist by law enforcement officers.
What’s the Difference?
This bias comes from the same place that cycling accidents often come from – a lack of information. When it comes to car accidents, the whole scene is a familiar one for law enforcement officers. However, like other motorists, many law enforcement officers aren’t exactly well-versed in the laws, common practices, or even the behavior of cyclists. To some, cyclists on the road are an unknown factor that makes them uncomfortable. It is easier for a law enforcement officer to believe a cyclist caused an accident over a motorist that has a clear-cut sort of behavior on the road.
Unfortunately, what this means for the cyclist is a poorly documented crash scene. Law Enforcement will state the facts as best they can, but lacking the knowledge of cyclist behavior, sometimes they don’t capture the whole picture. This can make receiving compensation for an accident difficult for the cyclist. It is something that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later as more cyclists take to the road and laws are constantly constructed to protect them. However, until then, the cyclist will need to be responsible for documenting their own accidents if possible.
If you have been in a cycling accident and need legal representation that understands, contact us today. As a cyclist himself, Gary Brustin and his law office understand what cyclists go through. If you were badly hurt, let him help you recover the compensation that you require.
Rolling Stop Law
The “Idaho stop” or rolling stop law for cyclists has been pervasively spreading across the United States over the past year. However, while this is great news for cyclists, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for local governments with perhaps different cycling laws to have a voice. This is just what Colorado was concerned with when the rolling stop rolled on up to the doors of state government.
However, unlike other states that have allowed it, Colorado took a more cautious route. They approved the rolling stop for cyclists but ultimately left setting restrictions on speed and implementation up to the local communities in the state.
Colorado is already quite friendly to cyclists, and in that regard, a number of cities already have their own cycling laws on the rolling stop. Furthermore, the state government recognizes that not every intersection is right for it.
This new law allows for communities to opt-in to adopt the Idaho stop for their community as well as regulate what is considered a “reasonable speed” to roll on through. This comes after a failed bill from 2017 that had addressed the same issue but ultimately failed due to conflicts with cyclist laws that had already been put into place in popular Colorado cycling cities.
Around the Country
This sets a great precedent for other states considering the issue of rolling stops for cyclists. It shows that this issue can be shot down if it conflicts with other community laws, but by offering it as a more opt-in affair, it can be adapted for the whole state.
Unfortunately, while this makes it safer for many cyclists, accidents will still happen. If you have been in a cycling accident and need a lawyer to represent you who understand your pain, contact us today. Let Gary Brustin, a fellow cyclist, and his law office come to your aid.
Like so many other cycling laws, as to whether or not you can actually ride your bicycle on the sidewalk can be a difficult thing to answer. The law on the subject is not covered by any federal guidelines and not every state law covers them either. Instead, the law tends to be specific to local municipalities. Which means if you want to know if you can in your area, then you need to check city law if there is nothing in the state law.
However, even if there is no explicit law regarding sidewalk cycling in your area, you will always find people who think there is. For some reason, riding your bicycle on the sidewalk even without laws against it is frowned upon by pedestrians. But why? Most cyclists have more problems with other motorists than they have with pedestrians. When they ride responsible on sidewalks, everyone is safer.
Are There Cycling Laws?
Of course, if there are no laws, then all the dirty looks in the world can’t stop you from doing it. However, always remember that if there is a bicycle lane available, you should be using it. So many people rally against bicycle lanes because it takes away driver parking and they claim cyclists don’t use them. This is why when a city makes preparations for cyclists, they should be using them, even though the closer you are to cars occasionally means the closer you are to danger. However, if no cyclists choose bicycle lanes over sidewalks, the motorist will never learn to share the road and bike lanes will stop being built.
As for the legality of sidewalk cycling, it is explicitly banned in very few cities, but cyclists should only use it when necessary. When roads are too narrow or bike lanes are not available, you should be able to go to the sidewalk if you can. For more information on cycling laws and safety, contact us today.
Drinking and Cycling
By this point, everyone should know better than to drink and drive. A car can cause a lot of damage even at a low speed, and thus, should only be driven when in a sober state of mind. However, the law in most states is a touch fuzzier when it comes to the issue of bicycling while drunk. The good news is that in many states, you might be arrested for drinking and cycling if acting obviously intoxicated, but you may not face punishments.
The key issue in drunk driving law is that many still use the term “motor” vehicles. This means cars, boats, and even your lawnmower shouldn’t be used while intoxicated. Yet, a bicycle doesn’t have a motor. In states where the statutes still specify motor vehicles, it makes it easy for the right defense attorney to argue that you weren’t driving a motor vehicle. Furthermore, as bicycles often do minimal damage to others, though can do much damage to your own person, courts will generally look more favorably on a drunk cyclist as opposed to a drunk motorist.
State to State
However, if you live in a state the specifically specifies “vehicles” instead of “motor vehicles” then they have probably already taken into consideration the event of drunk cyclists. However, since you do not need to hold a license in order to cycle, the punishments will be less severe in nature. If you hold a driver’s license, unfortunately, there may be punishments against that, but the courts can’t technically stop you from cycling.
While cycling under the influence charges usually come with the minimal punishments, you still don’t want to face them or have them on your record. If you have been arrested for biking under the influence and need help, contact us today to see what we can do to help you out.