Many bicyclists in the Bay Area wonder: Do I have to walk my bike across the crosswalks in California?
Technically, in the state you are supposed to walk your bike whenever you are in a crosswalk. Indeed, under California Vehicle Code 21200, which governs the operation of bicycles in the state, it is unlawful to ride across a crosswalk. For your own health and safety, the best thing you can do is to get off your bike when crossing the street.
That being said, if a serious bicycle accident does occur while you are riding in a crosswalk, do not automatically assume that you are the party at fault.
Liability for Bike Accidents in California
Even if you are riding your bike in the crosswalk, there is no excuse for a negligent driver to hit you in the crosswalk. And, even if the police officer notes that you were riding your bicycle in the crosswalk that does not mean that you can’t recover for your case.
I’ve had many, many clients turned down by other lawyers because the police report places the cause of the accident as riding a bicycle in the crosswalk, but the fact of the matter is that many times the accident would have been identical whether you were walking or riding because someone just blew right through the crosswalk and didn’t see the person. In that case we can make 100 percent recovery for you despite the technical discrepancy.
In California, liability for a bicycle accident must be established under the state’s comparative negligence standard. In the most simplified terms, this means that parties are legally responsible for accident damages in the exact same proportion to the extent that they were to blame for the crash. For example, if you were found to be at fault for 70 percent of an accident, you are liable for 70 percent of the total damages. Additionally, riders should remember that motor vehicle operators are held to a very high standard of care. If a car hit you while you were on a bike, even if you were riding in a crosswalk, it is very likely that the driver did something negligent.
Take Action to Protect Your Rights
I always advise people: look at the big picture. Look at the whole world of fault and who really caused the accident. My bigger piece of advice is don’t accept the police report at face value. Many times, in fact, the police report is not admissible in court in the case we are doing for you because the police officer wasn’t there at the scene and didn’t see it happen, the police officer only formed an opinion.
The bottom line is that bike-vehicle collision lawsuits are highly fact dependent. Your bike accident case deserves a comprehensive review from an experienced San Jose bicycle accident lawyer. At GJEL Accident Attorneys, our team will take a look at your case, free of charge, and we will help you assess your rights and explore your legal options.