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Things You Do To Cyclists You Had No Idea Are Illegal

Posted on July 31st, 2017 by Oddo & Babat, P.C.

You may be surprised to learn that the first ever traffic accident took place in 1896, on the streets of New York, when a car crashed into a bicycle. Back then, bicycles were fewer in number, and only a handful of people owned cars, so there was a small probability of the two being in an accident. Nowadays, however, there are more than 250 million registered vehicles in the United States. 16 million bicycles are bought every year. As a personal injury lawyer can explain, about 700 Americans die and 45,000 are injured annually in accidents involving bicycles and vehicles.

There are several things that most vehicle drivers do not know they do to bicyclists that are illegal and can result in fatal accidents. Here are some common things you must know to ensure that you do not end up doing anything illegal and hitting a cyclist.

  1. Using a Bike Lane to Park your Car

A bike lane is created for a purpose, which is definitely not for the parking of cars, not even for a few minutes. When you do so, it leaves cyclists no choice but to swerve into the road. Sometimes cyclists maneuver unpredictably into traffic lanes because the bike lane has been blocked by a parked car. Due to this, accidents take place as vehicle drivers are not expecting a bicycle to suddenly appear in their lane.

  1. Driving your Car Too Closely

Cyclists are required to ride on the right side, and it is mandatory for drivers to maintain a certain distance to avoid collision. There is a law, known as the Three Feet For Safety Act, which requires vehicle drivers to keep a distance of 3 feet from the cyclists, no matter where they are riding. This rule applies when a rider exits a bike lane.

  1. Cutting Into the Path of a Cyclist when Turning Right

Making a right turn without checking whether there are any pedestrians or cyclists passing by is not only unsafe, but it is also in violation of several rules of the road. Typically, a rider going straight has the right of way when you are turning right and it is your duty to stop and give them way. When you speed up to make a turn and cut into the path of a cyclist, you are cutting them off, in addition to breaking the Three Feet For Safety rule.

  1. Exhibiting Violent or Hostile Behavior

It is against the law to be violent with another person or threaten them with physical harm. If you are engaged in such behavior, you may be charged with assault, and have to pay penalties and fines. Under any circumstance, you are not allowed to threaten or cause bodily harm to a cyclist. Some cyclists nowadays have a camera attached to their helmet or other gear to record their commute, which they can also use to document the hostile behavior and have you arrested.

  1. Telling a Cyclist to Ride on the Sidewalk

Cyclists are not allowed to ride on sidewalks, as they cause danger to pedestrians. However, some drivers demand that cyclists to get off the road and ride on a sidewalk. This is an illegal practice in almost every state, and you should avoid doing this. Sidewalks are for pedestrians, not for bicycles. Cyclists have every right to ride on the road. Remember the saying – “share the road.”

Keep these five things in mind when driving to avoid accidents with bicyclists, and to avoid the possibility of being sued for an accident.

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