If I’m on a Bicycle, Do I have the Same Rights as a Car?
Generally, Texas bicyclists follow the same traffic rules as automobiles. As such, bicyclists are generally guaranteed the same rights as a motorist. However, there are occasionally extra protections granted to bicycle operators that are not granted to operators of passenger cars or motor carriers.
What Legal Rights Are Guaranteed to Texas Bicyclists?
Because bicycles aren’t motorized, motorists can forget that bicyclists have just as much right to be on the road as any other vehicle. Failure to recognize this fact often leaves bicyclists at an increased risk of accident and motorists trying to blame bicyclists for any crashes that occur.
Briefly, these are some of the rights cyclists have while traveling on Texas roadways:
- Cyclists may ride in the road traveling the same direction as traffic, though they should stay as far right as possible.
- Cars MUST yield to a bicycle that has the right-of-way, just as they would to a motorized vehicle.
- Cyclists should ride near the curb, but Texas law does allow cyclists to take up an entire lane of traffic when it is safer to do so.
- Cyclists can ride two abreast as long as they don’t slow or hinder traffic.
- Cyclists can take up the entire lane when the lane is too narrow for a car to pass the rider at a safe distance (generally estimated to be less than 14 feet across without a bike lane).
What Are Some Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?
When a bicycle accident does occur, it may not be immediately clear who is at fault. Below are a few common examples of bicycle accidents and who is typically at fault.
- A Car Pulls Out from a Side Street or Parking Lot – This is probably the most common cause of bicycle accidents involving a motor vehicle. Studies have found that driver tend to look into the middle of the road for oncoming traffic (where cars would normally be) and often fail to check bike lanes or sidewalks. In this example, the driver is at fault as the bicyclist would have the right-of-way.
- A Driver Opens their Car Door into a Bicyclist – Motorists often fail to check their rear-view mirrors and blind spots for bicyclists before opening their door. In this case, the motorist would again be at fault provided the bicyclist was traveling in the same direction as traffic. If the bicyclist was traveling the wrong-direction, it could be shared fault.
- A Car Turns in Front of a Cyclist – If a car turns in front of a bicyclist, it is the motorists fault. Drivers are expected to check for motor traffic, bike lane traffic, and pedestrian traffic before completing a turn.
- A Car Hits a Bicyclist Traveling in the Same Direction – Currently, Texas does not have a state law for safe following distances or safe between distances when it comes to bicyclists. So, there can be confusion about what a safe distance is. Still, if a motorist strikes a bicyclist from behind, side-swipes a bicyclists, or enters a biking lane occupied by a cyclists, they will normally be held at fault.
What Should I Do if I’ve Been Involved in a Bicycle Accident?
Your actions immediately following a bicycle accident are important. In the case of any motor vehicle accident, it is paramount that evidence is preserved and an experienced bicycle accident lawyer is contacted. If you have been in a bicycle accident, follow these five steps.
- File a police report. Even if you do not think you are injured at the time of the accident, you may feel the effects hours or days later.
- Obtain driver and witness contact information. Be sure to get this information even if police have already included it in their report.
- Document what happened. Take pictures at the scene. As soon as possible after the accident, write down everything you can remember about what happened.
- Preserve evidence. Don’t get your bike fixed or replace your helmet.
- Decide how to proceed. If you decide to hire a bicycle accident attorney, do not talk to any insurance company until you have spoken with your attorney.
Contact an Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle accident involving a motor vehicle, contact Thomas J. Henry. Our experienced automobile and bicycle injury lawyers have handled a multitude of accident cases and have achieved record-breaking, real results for injured clients. We ensure that you are in the best position possible to achieve the maximum amount of compensation for your case. You can recover compensation for medical expenses, your pain and suffering, and lost wages from missing work. Our injury attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends to evaluate your claim. Contact us today for a free case review.