Bike vs. Car:
Who Has the Right of Way?

In many traffic situations, the answer can be hazy. Colorado bicycle-car accident attorney Mack Babcock explains what the law says and how it can affect your injury case.

Bicycle enthusiasts are often caught in the middle when it comes to which traffic rules apply while riding on or near a roadway. Legally speaking, cyclists are generally considered pedestrians in most situations, but when using the roadway for transportation, they are also required to comply with traffic flow regulations such as stopping at crosswalks and biking with the flow of traffic.

In designated crosswalks, bicyclists must also respect the rights of walking pedestrians even though they may not be required to dismount and push the bike across the street. However, in many parts of Colorado, riding a bike on the sidewalk is illegal. According to Colorado bike law:

“A person shall not ride a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle upon and along a sidewalk or pathway or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk where such use of bicycles or electrical assisted bicycles is prohibited by official traffic control devices or local ordinances. A person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle shall dismount before entering any crosswalk where required by official traffic control devices or local ordinances.”

Whether a cyclist can ride or must dismount on a sidewalk or crosswalk, they are granted all of the rights and responsibilities of a pedestrian when crossing the street.

In the case of a bike accident with a motor vehicle, right of way is determined by many factors - just as it is in a car crash. The intent and actions of the bicycle rider are closely evaluated when a collision occurs.

Continue reading to learn about bicycle safety law in the state of Colorado. (Don’t live in Colorado? Click here to find the bike laws in your state.)

Using Crosswalks

When crossing a street, bicyclists are allowed to use the same designated pedestrian crosswalks as those walking. Bike riders are usually considered to be the negligent party if they strike a walking pedestrian, as there is a reasonable duty of care owed to those on foot. The safest option is to push your bike across the walkway when there is significant foot traffic and to stay inside the designated lanes, especially when riding alongside walking pedestrians.

Being hit by a car while outside of the crossing lane could increase the level of assumption of personal risk if an injury should occur, which could have a negative impact on any future personal injury claim you wish to pursue.

Using the Roadway

Many highways restrict bicyclists just as they do walking pedestrians and mopeds. It’s very important for bicyclists to avoid open highways designated for restricted traffic only. Streets and inner city roadways are different because operating speeds tend to be lower and there may be a designated bicycle lane that restricts foot traffic and some motorized vehicles.

When using the road, bicyclists must comply with standard traffic rules such as signaling to turn and using a headlight when traveling after dark. Bike riders should also yield to motorized vehicles when appropriate and make sure to stay as far away from standard vehicle traffic as possible while still utilizing the edge of the road.

It is also important to remember to wear safety gear - especially a helmet - when riding anywhere near motor vehicles.

Lastly, staying alert can be the difference between a bicyclist arriving at his destination safely or being seriously injured in an accident. So be watchful and save listening to your iPod for when you are not riding your bike!

Comparative Negligence in a Bike Accident

The law of comparative negligence still applies to those on bicycles, which can be significant in the case of an accident.

The state of Colorado adheres to modified comparative negligence, meaning anyone who files a personal injury claim can collect damages if he or she is determined to be less than 50% responsible for the accident.

Contact an Experienced Colorado Bike Accident Lawyer

For bicycle riders, this can be particularly devastating because they are often found to be responsible for their own injuries. It is imperative to have an experienced personal injury attorney representing your case because comparative negligence can become complicated quickly.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a bicycle accident, the Denver-based personal injury attorneys at Babcock Law Firm can help. Contact us today for a free consultation, or continue browsing our Personal Injury Guide to learn more about personal injury law and how it affects your case.

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