Many times cyclists or bicyclists are injured or crash while riding to work or for recreation. If one is hit by a car while riding a bicycle, the general rules of negligence apply just as in a car vs. car accident. One has to prove that there was liability or negligence on the part of the at-fault driver. If a driver pulls out in front of you and fails to yield the right of way to a cyclist, then that driver is negligent since a reasonable, prudent driver has a duty to keep a proper lookout for cyclists and pedestrians. Secondly, the fault of the driver must be the cause of your injuries. Finally, the damages are determined just like any personal injury case, did you incur medical bills and expenses as a result of the crash, did you lose wages or time from work, will you incur future medical bills and expenses. The second part of your damages would be non-economic damages like pain and suffering, mental distress, fear, and loss of enjoyment of life or the ability to ride your bicycle.
Many times, even the police do not understand the law governing cyclists. For example, I am a competitive master’s cyclists and have been pulled over by the Police for riding two abreast down a four-lane road. It is permissible, under the law, to ride 2 abreast as long as there is another lane to your left where cars can pass. In some states, if you are impeding traffic behind you, then technically an officer can give you a citation. Every state has different laws surrounding cyclist safety. In Colorado, a car cannot pass a cyclist until it is safe to do so and must pass at a 3-foot wide envelope. In other words, if a passing driver cannot pass you and give you 3 feet of clearance, then the driver is not allowed to pass (and can be ticketed for unsafe driving). If it is not safe to pass, then the motorist must wait. If you see a driver passing too close or almost touching you when they pass, this is very dangerous and reckless and try to note the license plate or description of the vehicle and immediately report it to the police.
There have been many unnecessary deaths caused by impatient drivers. Why can’t drivers wait a few seconds and pass a cyclist safely? Unfortunately, in today’s world, people are always in a hurry and not paying attention or texting on their cell phones. All of this makes cycling a dangerous sport and mode of transportation. We need more public education on how drivers should deal with cyclists and what to do at intersections and when approaching cyclists from behind. Most people are aware of cyclists and pass them safely but there are always these groups of people who feel that cyclists have no place on the road and should be banned from using the same roads as cars. However, how are cyclists supposed to practice their sport or hobby or get to work while at the same time, protecting the environment? We should all be encouraging cycling as it does cut down on pollution and does help one’s health and fitness. Please look out for cyclists out there as every cyclist on the road is someone’s mother, father, son or daughter. Don’t be the one who ends up in jail for killing or seriously injuring a cyclist.