Many bicyclists in the Bay Area wonder: Do I have to walk my bike across the crosswalks in California?

The best answer we can offer is “maybe.” Under state law, there is no such requirement written into the Vehicle Code. But some local ordinances, and some rules and regulations in private developments, might require you to do so. Use good sense – how you ride in a busy downtown area might be different than on a country road with little traffic.

If a serious bicycle accident does occur while you are riding in a crosswalk, determining the party or parties at fault, and the injured cyclist’s right to damages, will depend on looking at the whole picture of what happened.

Do you have to walk your bike across a crosswalk?

Unfortunately there is not a clear legal answer here depending on your jurisdiction. As always its safest to look both ways and only cross when the crosswalk says it’s safe.

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 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, your likelihood of a good recovery remains high.

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 sustained by another; or, if you are the injured party, your damages are reduced by 70%. 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 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 universe of fault, and who really caused the accident. 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.


Andy Gillin

Andy Gillin received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Berkeley and his law degree from the University of Chicago. He is the managing partner of GJEL Accident Attorneys and has written and lectured in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury law for numerous organizations. Andy is a highly recognized wrongful death lawyer in California.