As more people feel a responsibility to travel more greenly and in some cases get more exercise, bicycles are popping up more frequently on the road. It is no surprise, then, that there are more car accidents involving cyclists occurring each week. Unfortunately, driver and cyclists don’t always see eye to eye and believe that they alone have the right of way on the road at all time. Car horns blare, insults are shouted, road rage boils over, and accidents happen. As it is illegal for bicycles to be operated on the sidewalks, we must all find a way to share the road responsibly, lest you will need a Denver car accident attorney to guide you through any resulting lawsuits.
Bicycles are to be considered and operated just like any other car, or commercial vehicle and obey all of the same laws and rules of the road. If you are a bicyclist in Denver, you must follow all posted signs, including stop signs, and traffic lights. We’ve all seen a cyclist stop at a red light and proceed through it shortly thereafter to avoid waiting too long, straddling the line between vehicle operator and pedestrian. This is illegal and you will be stopped and ticketed if caught. You can also be ticketed via traffic cameras, a part of the photo speed program, for failure to stop properly at a red light equipped with the camera. One exception to this rule is that you may cross the street as a pedestrian by getting off of your bicycle and walking it across during the appropriate walk signal in a crosswalk; you cannot ride through a red light.
In addition to stopping and continuing with the flow of traffic, cyclists are required to use the proper hand turn signal to alert other drivers and pedestrians of the maneuvers you make. Failing to signal a turn and suddenly cutting in front of a car will likely result in an accident that will injure you and potentially others. Be smart, be safe, and keep yourself seen. Be sure to wear biking gear that is reflective so you can catch the attention of drivers. Always make sure that you have your reflectors on and clean; if you choose to ride at night, you must equip your bike with a headlight and it must be visible at 500 feet. While not required, it is strongly encouraged to outfit your bike with a taillight that is reflective at a minimum of 600 feet to ensure your safety.
Many Denver streets are equipped with bike lanes. You are required to ride in the bike lane when one is present, and if there is no bike lane on the road, ride to the right of traffic. Bicycles are allowed to use the left-turn lanes just as cars are, but be sure that you signal that you will be moving into that lane and that you will be taking that turn to alert drivers of your presence and intention. As a bicyclist, you are prohibited from riding on the sidewalk, unless the sidewalk is a part of the designated bike lane; you may walk your bike on a sidewalk.
If you are a Denver driver, you must constantly be aware of your surroundings for any bicyclists. Like other cars, they may be riding in your blind spot, so be sure to adjust your side and review mirrors to minimize any blind spots and mitigate accidents. Be careful at stop signs and red lights as some cyclists will cruise through them without looking. Though you will likely not be at fault in the event of an accident by a bicyclist running a red light, you are safer in a car than they are on their bike. Note that you must give three (3) feet of space to a bicyclist when you pass them. Strangely, it is not prohibited for cyclists to use cell phones while they ride, so some do. This can distract them from their duties on the road, just as it would to any driver in a car, so exert additional caution if you see a cyclist on their phone.
Some cyclists believe that riding a bike after drinking alcohol, or smoking marijuana, does not place them in danger of being pulled over for a DUI / OUI. Since cyclists are considered and treated like any other car, they are subject to the same rules of operating their bike while inebriated. As a reminder, the legal limit is .08% blood alcohol content (BAC) and if pulled over, you are subject to comply with an officer if they request you to take a breathalyzer, or field sobriety, test. You can refuse, but you will be arrested under probable cause and will have broken the implied consent law.
As a last piece of advice to both drivers and cyclists, you should consider investing in a dashboard camera, or helmet camera, to document your trips and to use as evidence should an accident occur. While police officers, insurance agents, and attorneys can argue and determine who is at fault, by having a camera handy, you have an advantage with proof and evidence. Did the cyclist run a red light, or fail to signal a turn? Was the driver speeding, or operating their vehicle erratically? Did one of you not see the other’s signal and listed into each other, resulting in a crash? Fortunately, if you have a camera, you can submit the footage as evidence to clear your name in the matter.
Even if you obey the rules of the road as a driver or cyclist, it does not guarantee that everyone else will. You can only take the proper precautions to protect yourself and others, but you cannot rely on that others will do the same. In the event of an accident, immediately contact a Denver car accident attorney, like the experts a the Law Office of Jarrett Benson. Car accidents can happen anywhere, at any time, for any number of reasons. We, unfortunately, live in a world of distracted drivers, or those operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol or other substances. If you, a friend, or a loved one has been involved in a Denver car accident, call our offices immediately to discuss your options and the next steps for protecting yourself, or seeking compensation. We’re here to help and guide you through any settlement as your Denver car accident attorney.