11 Things Every Bicyclist and Driver Should Know
by David Olan
Malibu is one of the most beautiful areas in the world. When I’m cycling in Malibu, with our stunning coastline and spectacular mountain vistas, I am often overcome by the beauty of this amazing place we have the honor of calling home.
Nevertheless, bicycling in Malibu – especially on Pacific Coast Highway – can be challenging and dangerous. With the Southern California car culture prevailing, the concept of “share our roads” is often nonexistent resulting in clashes between cyclists and motor vehicle drivers.
Here are 11 legal recommendations that you, as a cyclist – or as a motor vehicle driver – need to know.
1. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, VC 21200, a bicyclist has all the rights and duties of a motor vehicle driver and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle. In other words, cyclists have as much right to the road as cars do.
2. Cyclists are bound by the same laws as a motor vehicle driver in regards to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
3. In most instances, your uninsured – underinsured insurance, which is included in your car insurance policy, will cover you in any bike accident you have. Olan Law strongly urges you to increase your uninsured – underinsured insurance to the highest level the insurance company will permit to protect yourself if you are in a hit and run accident or in an accident in which the driver has either no insurance or not enough insurance to cover your bodily and/or property damage.
4. The law says that a cyclist traveling at the speed of traffic may ride wherever they like on the road. If a cyclist is traveling slower than the speed of traffic they must ride as close to the right side of the road as possible.
The exceptions are when they are passing, preparing to turn left, avoiding a hazard, or approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. However, on PCH veering into a traffic lane can be taking your life in your hands, even if you are in the “right.” Motorists need to know that they will be considered liable in these circumstance if they hit a bicyclist.
5. One of the most frequent types of bike accidents is “dooring.” If the driver (or passenger) of a motor vehicle opens their door and a bicyclist is taken down, the motorist is at fault. A good way to ensure this does not happen is by opening your door with your right hand, which will force you to turn to look behind you.
6. Bicyclists must be very cautious of potholes. They can cause serious personal injuries and even a wrongful death. If you are injured in a bike accident because of a pothole, the Los Angeles County and/or the City of Malibu may be liable.
7. Riding on sidewalks is regulated by counties and cities. Almost every city has its own ordinances concerning bike riding on sidewalks. In the areas probably of most concern to Malibu residents, Los Angeles County (unincorporated areas such as Marina Del Rey), Malibu, and Santa Monica, do not permit riding on the sidewalk, and you can be ticketed.
8. Bicyclists under the age of 18 must wear a helmet while riding a bike.
9. Bicyclists may not wear ear plugs or head phones in both ears while riding. Hearing aids are permitted.
10. Bicyclists must yield the right of way to pedestrians in marked crosswalks or in unmarked crosswalks at intersections.
11. Though police reports often incorrectly assign blame to the cyclist in a bike – motor vehicle accident, you still want a police report made. Police often are biased against cyclists or do not know the laws as they pertain to cyclists; however, they are rarely wrong about the facts (where, when, speeds, etc.), of a case. This can be of great help to your attorney.
Drive safely out there.