California has many bicyclists sharing the road with pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers. Unfortunately, many of them can end up in accidents and sustain injuries each year. If you are a cyclist, one way to stay safe on the road is to observe right of way properly.
What is right of way?
In traffic law, right of way refers to the legal right to proceed before other road users can. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorists sometimes have right of way in certain situations and at specific spots.
Under California law, for example, pedestrians generally have right of way within marked and unmarked crosswalks in intersections. In these areas, motorists should yield and allow pedestrians to cross the road. Failure to do so may result in penalties like fines and deductions to your DMV driving record.
When do bicyclists have right of way?
A mistaken belief is that bicycle riders have similar right of way as pedestrians. In fact, the same rules usually apply to cyclists and motorists. Like other drivers, cyclists should yield to whoever arrives first in uncontrolled intersections. Moreover, if you fail to yield and your actions cause a crash, you might be liable for any resulting injury or property damage.
However, bicyclists do have right of way within bike lanes. This means that motor vehicle drivers should watch out for and yield to cyclists already in the lane before entering or crossing a bike lane.
Observing right of way can help you drive safely and avoid accidents. If you sustain injuries in a bike accident because another party failed to follow traffic rules, a personal injury attorney can help you build a strong case and fight for your rights in court.