With Solana Beach’s gorgeous weather and diverse landscapes, many people use bikes for transportation to work, school, or just for pure pleasure. Solana Beach locals know our city is often best explored on foot or by bike. Cycling is more than just fun—it promotes a healthy lifestyle, prevents traffic and congestion, and dramatically improves our impact on the environment.
However, in Solana Beach, as in any other city, irresponsible drivers cause bicyclists to face unnecessary risks that can result in serious harm.
If you have suffered injuries in a bicycle accident, it’s vital to consult the dedicated Solana Beach bicycle accident attorneys at Gomez Trial Attorneys to learn about your legal options.
To prevent these needless tragedies, motorists and bicyclists owe a duty of care to one another. California Vehicle Code (VC) 21200 et seq imposes the same rights and responsibilities on bicyclists as those imposed on other motorists. For example, they must obey all traffic rules, signals, signs, and speed limits. They must bike on the right-hand side of the road (not facing traffic.)
Laws That Apply to Solana Beach Bicyclists
Under California law, a cyclist moving slower than the speed of normal traffic must use a bicycle lane if there is one unless the following conditions apply:
A bicyclist plans to overtake another bicycle or pedestrian within the bike lane.
A bicyclist plans to make a left turn at an intersection or into a driveway.
To avoid road debris or another hazardous condition that exists within the bike lane.
If a bicyclist must leave a bike lane, he or she must give appropriate hand signals and proceed only when it is safe to do so.
In most cases, bicyclists on a public roadway who are traveling slower than normal traffic should ride as close to the right-side curb as they can. However, there are extenuating circumstances, such as when overtaking someone traveling in the same direction, making a left turn, and reasonably avoiding hazards such as parked vehicles, moving objects, and road debris.
If the cyclist is riding on a one-way street with two or more lanes, they may ride near the left curb or edge of the roadway.
Bicycles should be parked upright if possible, allowing for an adequate path for pedestrian traffic. There may be local rules that apply to bicycle parking. It is against the law for anyone, whether they are a bicyclist or motorist, to park in such a way that they block the traffic of a bike path or bike lane.
In California, a passenger or an operator of a bicycle who is under the age of 18 must wear an approved helmet. Those parents who violate the law may face a fine of $25. However, wearing a helmet, regardless of age, dramatically improves personal safety.
Wearing headsets or earplugs in both ears while operating a bicycle on a public roadway is forbidden. There are exceptions for authorized emergency vehicle operators and those who need earplugs to prevent injury. However, in those cases, they still must wear earplugs that allow them to hear a car horn or emergency siren.
Bicyclists may not hitch rides by attaching themselves to any motorized vehicle on a public roadway. Bicyclists must keep one hand on the handlebars at all times and may not carry a package or other object that prevents them from doing that.
California’s law also forbids giving rides to passengers on a bike, unless the bike has a permanent and regularly attached seat. Children under the age of four or those weighing less than 40 pounds may ride in a safe, elevated seat.
It is against the law to operate a bicycle when under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or any combination. Those under the age of 21 at the time of the violation may lose their driving privileges for one year.
Laws That Apply to Motorists in Solana Beach
Motor vehicle drivers:
Must stay out of bicycle lanes. If turning, motorists may enter a bike lane no more than 200 feet before beginning the turn.
Keep an appropriate distance when overtaking and passing. The Three Feet for Safety Act provides that motorists overtaking and passing a bicycle traveling in the same direction must pass with at least three feet of space between them. If this is not possible due to traffic or roadway conditions, the driver must slow to a reasonable speed and only pass the bicycle when it’s safe. When passing, motorists must use caution to avoid forcing the bike into a parked vehicle or open the car door.
Watch for bicycles. Bicycles are smaller than cars and more difficult to see. Therefore, drivers must check for bicycles before changing lanes, turning, entering traffic, or opening doors next to moving traffic. Always check blind spots before taking such action.
Avoid leaving debris. Roadside debris, such as bottles, cans, cigarettes, nails, or other rubbish, can present a serious hazard to bikers. Therefore, it is illegal for anyone to throw items from a moving vehicle onto a road or bike path.
Common Causes of Solana Beach Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle accidents happen in all kinds of ways, so know the risk factors.
Common causes of bicycle accidents we’ve encountered around Solana Beach include:
Dooring accidents. Heavy traffic may force the cyclist to ride closer to parked cars. If the driver fails to check that no bicycle or other vehicle is coming, he or she may open the car door, and the bicyclist runs into it.
Sideswiping accidents. Even at low speeds, sideswipe accidents can be devastating for bicyclists. They often happen when the passing car does not allow enough room for the bicyclist. This is why California law requires three feet of clearance when passing.
Rear-ending the bicyclist happens when a car is following too closely or is not paying attention and cannot stop in time. These accidents often happen at stop signs.
Crossing in front of the bike, usually at an intersection or from a driveway or alley. Again, the driver of the car is either not paying attention or does not see the bicyclist. That is why bicyclists should always wear high visibility clothing and use headlights when needed.
Drivers turning into bicycles on their right side often cause accidents. Many drivers fail to check their blind spots before making a right turn. If a cyclist is traveling on the right side of the car, the car may hit the bicyclist.
Other Factors That Place Both Drivers and Cyclists at Risk
Paying attention and driving responsibly can prevent many accidents. Risk factors include the following:
Distracted driving has become a serious problem because people try to multitask while operating a vehicle.
Riding or driving aggressively or recklessly puts everyone on the road at risk.
Speeding is more than driving above the posted speed limit. It also means driving too fast for road conditions. A speeding driver can’t always adjust to curves or road hazards, preventing them from reacting to a dangerous situation or stopping in time.
Unclear bicycle lanes are confusing and dangerous for everyone on the roads. Cities and Counties must ensure that cyclists receive their share of the road, and that these lanes are properly indicated.
Poorly maintained roads are a hazard for both bicyclists and motorists.
The truth is that no matter what precautions you take as a cyclist, you simply cannot control the poor decisions or negligent behavior of an irresponsible driver. This is why it’s so important to hold negligent drivers accountable when they cause harm to cyclists: it’s the only way to encourage drivers to operate their vehicles safely, and ensure that cyclists throughout Solana Beach receive the proper care they deserve.
That said, these factors may increase the chances of an accident:
Most fatal bicycle accidents happen between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Fatalities are far more likely to occur in urban areas (75 percent) than in rural areas (25 percent).
Males are eight times more likely to die in bicycle accidents.
Alcohol was involved in 37 percent of all fatal bicyclist collisions.
Common Injuries From Solana Beach Bicycle Accidents
A study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed that 45 percent of bicycle accident fatalities occurred when a motor vehicle and bicycle were both traveling in the same direction, and in 40 percent of serious bicycle collisions, a motorist rear-ended the bicyclist. When a bicycle and a car crash, it’s the cyclist, of course, who sustains the brunt of the damage. Cyclists are far more vulnerable to injuries than those in a motor vehicle. Accidents often result in fatalities, especially when the car is going fast or the cyclist is not wearing a helmet.
Injuries sustained in serious collisions include:
Injuries to the head and brain, such as concussions, skull fractures, or other traumatic brain injuries.
Organ damage and internal bleeding.
Back and neck injuries, such as spinal cord damage or herniated discs.
Soft Tissue Injuries, such as stretched or torn tendons or ligaments.
Facial lacerations and dental injuries.
Scarring and disfigurement
In general, the injured cyclist can sue for compensatory damages in a Solana Beach bicycle accident lawsuit. The types of damages available may depend on whether the victim was injured or died as a result of the accident.
Compensation may include:
Lost earning capacity in cases of permanent physical or mental impairment,
Loss of consortium (of a spouse or registered domestic partner),
Disfigurement or loss of limb,
Pain and suffering.
The Basics of Solana Beach Bicycle Accident Lawsuits
Negligence is the basis for many kinds of lawsuits, including Solana Beach bicycle accident cases. Basically, negligence occurs when a person owes a duty to another person and fails in that duty. The negligent person is liable for any resulting injuries.
When a bicyclist sues a driver for injuries suffered in an accident, negligent behavior on the part of one or both parties is a critical factor. Negligence by a driver can take many forms, such as running a stop sign, speeding, or improper use of designated lanes.
What Should You Do After a Solana Beach Bicycle Crash?
Move to a safe area. Seek medical care as soon as possible. Even if you think you are uninjured or that your injuries are minor, some injuries do not show up until days or even weeks later, so prompt treatment is essential. Also, medical records are proof that you were injured, and the records document the extent of your injuries.
When riding, carry a cell phone, personal identification, and emergency contact information.
Call the police. Even if the accident is minor, an official police report documents the accident.
Leave your bike in the same state it was after the crash, if possible. It is best if the police see the accident scene undisturbed.
Be sure to get the name and insurance information of the driver, the names of any passengers, and the contact information of any witnesses.
Take photos of injuries, your bicycle, and the accident scene.
Do not publish photos of or information about your accident on social media.
Make no statement to insurance or other people until you talk to a lawyer.
Were You Injured in a Bicycle Accident in Solana Beach?
If you or a loved one has been involved in a bicycle accident, it’s vital to speak with an experienced, caring Solana Beach bicycle accident lawyer. Our legal team has the experience and the resources to gather the evidence and pursue the best possible result for your case. There are time limits for filing lawsuits in California, so it is important to contact your attorney without delay. For more information or a free consultation, call Gomez Trial Attorneys at (619) 237-3490 or contact us online to speak with a compassionate Solana Beach personal injury lawyer.