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Hit While Biking Against the Flow of Traffic

Insurance Company will Blame You if You were not Riding in the same Direction as Traffic

Were you in a bike accident and hit by a car while riding your bike against the flow of traffic? The driver’s insurance adjuster will attempt to blame you for the accident. The adjuster will argue that you were riding on the wrong side of the street, thus their driver bears no fault, or only bears partial fault.

California Law on Biking Against the Flow of Traffic

California Vehicle Code Section 21650.1 deals with biking against the flow of traffic. It states:

"A bicycle operated on a roadway, or the shoulder of a highway shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway."

If you are hit by a car while biking on the roadway against the flow of traffic, the insurance adjuster will use this code section against you and argue that you were 100% at fault for the accident, or partially at fault ("comparatively negligent") for the accident.

If the adjuster takes the position that you were “comparatively negligent,” that means that the adjuster will reduce the amount that the insurance company will pay you by the percentage of fault that the adjuster attributes to you. For example, the adjuster may say you are 50% at fault for the accident because you were riding your bike on the sidewalk. In this scenario, if the adjuster determines the full value of your claim to be $100,000, the adjuster will reduce that by 50% and offer you $50,000.

It is NOT ILLEGAL for Bicyclists to Ride Against Traffic when Riding in a Crosswalk or on a Sidewalk

Keep in mind these important facts about California code regarding bicyclists riding against traffic:

  • The plain and unambiguous language of Vehicle Code Section 21650.1 does not require that a bicycle be operated in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic when on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.
  • For a bicyclist to be in violation of Section 21650.1, the cyclist must have been riding in the opposite direction of adjacent traffic and be either (a) on the shoulder of a highway; or (b) on a roadway.
  • The Vehicle Code makes clear that sidewalks and crosswalks are not the same as roadways or a shoulder of a highway. California Vehicle Code Section 275 defines "crosswalk" as the area "within the prolongation or connection of the boundary lines of sidewalks."
  • Vehicle Code Section 555 defines "sidewalk" as "that portion of a highway, other than the roadway, set apart by curbs, barriers, markings or other delineation for pedestrian travel." The Vehicle Code is clear: crosswalks and sidewalks are distinct and separate from roadways and the shoulder of highways.
  • Bottom Line: California law requires that a bicyclist riding on a roadway ride in the same direction as the flow of traffic. But a bicyclist riding in a crosswalk or on the sidewalk is not required to ride with the flow of traffic.

Even though it is not against the law for a cyclist to ride against traffic in a crosswalk or on a sidewalk, police reports will often wrongly put the cyclist at fault for violating Vehicle Code Section 21650.1. This can be happen even if the bicyclist had a green light and the motorist was turning right on a red light. At McGee, Lerer & Associates, we will fight for clients who are wrongly put at fault for the accident, and we will demand that the motorist’s insurance carrier pay full compensation for the harm inflicted.

Do not let the insurance adjuster take advantage of you by misrepresenting the law to support their liability position and to justify a low ball settlement offer. They want a discount on what they owe you. No discount! Protect your right to full compensation by getting the advice of an experienced bike accident lawyer.

It’s important to call a bike accident attorney first, BEFORE you speak to the driver’s insurance adjuster. We do not want you speaking to the adjuster. Call us today for a free consultation.

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